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TMi iTtyiiaiETr pih^^m 

The Stuart Papers in the possession of the Crown, to which his late Majesty wa« 
graciously pleased to allow access for the use of the present Work, and which reach as far 
back as the Revolution of 1688, consist of a large mass of important documents illustrative 
of the efforts of James the Second, and of his son and grandson, to recover the crown which 
the first had lost by his own obstinacy, or the treachery of his advisers; but as the events of 
the Rebellion of 1745 formed the only subject of inquiry, the commencement of the inves- 
tigation was limited to the year 1740, and was carried down to the close of the year 1755, 
in which period the principal events preceding the Rebellion, those of the Rebellion itself, 
and the occurrences which followed, are embraced. It is believed that the documents 
examined, amounting to about 15,000 unedited pieces, convey all the information required 
to complete the history of one of the most remarkable epochs in the British annals. Copious 
selections have been made from these papers for the present Work, and many entire docu- 
ments have been copied, all of which have been either partly incorporated with the Work 
itself, or given in an Appendix. From the information which these Papers afford, the 
Publishers have no hesitation in stating, that this Work contains the most complete and 
authentic history yet published of the events of 1745. To give some idea of the historical 
importance of these documents, which, for the first time, meet the public eye, or are referred 
to in the present Work, the following general enumeration may suffice: — 

1. Eighty-one letters and memorandums written by Charles Edward. 

2. Seventy letters of his father, the Chevalier de St. George. 

3. Two of Cardinal York. 

4. Six of Lochiel. 

5. Eleven of old and young Glengary. 

6. Three of Lochgary. 

7. Eight of Lord Marischal. 

8. Three of Robertson of Strowan. 

9. Eight of Drummond of Bochaldy. 

10. Six of Lord George Murray. 

11. Two of Lord John Drummond. 

12. Three of Lord Strathallan. 

13. Three of Dr. Cameron, Lochiel's brother. 

14. Three of Mr. John Graham. 

In the selection which has been made are also letters of Lord and Lady Balmerino ; the 
Duchess of Perth; Lords Clancarty, Ogilvy, Nairne, and Elcho; Macdonald of Clanranald ; 
Gordon of Glenbucket ; Sir Hector Maclean ; Sir John Wedderburn ; Oliphant of Gask ; 
and James Drummond, or Macgregor, the son of Rob Roy, &c. &c. The correspondence 
throws considerable light on several matters hitherto little understood or imperfectly known. 
The embezzlement of the money left by the Prince under the charge of Macpherson of 
Cluny is referred to, and the conduct of the persons who appear to have appropriated it to 
their own use is freely animadverted on. The correspondence likewise embraces two most 
interesting letters from the Chevalier to the Prince on the subject of his marriage, and on 
the promotion of Prince Henry to the dignity of Cardinal. 

Besides the correspondence, the selection comprehends a report of Gordon the Jesuit, on 
the state of affairs in Scotland in 1745; A treaty entered into at Fountainebleau between 
the King of France and the Chevalier after the battle of Prestonpans; Instructions from the 
King of France to Lord John Drummond on the conduct of the expedition intrusted to him; 
Note from Lord George Murray to the Prince, resigning his command after the battle of 
Culloden, with his reasons for that step ; Notice from the Prince to the Chiefs of the Clans 
after said battle ; List of Charges drawn up by the Prince against Macdonald of Barisdale ; 
State of allowances granted by the French Government to the Highland officers; Memoir 
presented by the Prince to the King of France on his return from Scotland; Commission by 
Charles to treat for a marriage with the Princess of Hesse Darmstadt; Charles's accounts 
with Waters, his banker at Paris; Account of the Moidart family, presented to the Chevaher 
de St. George; A curious and interesting Memoir presented to the Prince in 1755 by a 
deputation of gentlemen, in relation to his conduct during the extraordinary incognito he 
preserved for several years, with the Prince's answer; Address by the Chevalier de St. 
George to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge ; Memorandum by the Prince, in which 
he refers to his visit to England in 1750, &c. &c. 

This partial enumeration will serve to convey some idea of the extent of the researches 
which have been made into this great repository of materials for history, and also of the 
value of the acquisitions which have been made for the present Work; but it is only from 
the documents themselves, and the new light which they shed on one of the most interesting 
and memorable episodes in British history, that their real importance can be fully estimateil. 













VOL. I. 





In offering to the public the following History of the Highlands and 
Highland Clans, which has so long occupied my attention, I think it right 
to state, without reserve, that the Work makes no pretensions whatever 
to original discovery, or novel speculation. Nothing is more easy than 
to hazard conjectures, invent theories, construct plausible hypotheses, 
and indulge in shadowy generalizations. In the regions of doubt and 
obscurity, there is always ample scope for the exercise of that barren 
ingenuity, which prefers the fanciful to the certain, and aims at the 
praise of originality by exciting surprise rather than producing convic- 
tion. My object has throughout been of a humbler, though, as I conceive, 
of a much more useful kind. I have sought to embrace, in this Work, 
the different branches of the subject of which it treats, and to render 
it a repertory of general information respecting all that relates to the 
Highlands of Scotland rather than a collection of critical disquisitions on 
disputed questions of history or tradition. How far I have succeeded 
in this object, or whether I have succeeded at all, is another and very 
different question, as to which the public alone are entitled to decide ; and 
I am fully aware that, from their decision, whatever it may be, there 
lies no appeal. In any event, however, I shall console myself with the 
reflection that I have done somewhat to facilitate the labours of those 
who may come after me, by collecting and arranging a body of materials, 
the importance of which will be best appreciated by those who are the 
most intimately conversant with the subject. 

In reference to the History of the Clans, I have to acknowledge, and 
I do so with the greatest pleasure, my obligations to the work of the 
late Mr Donald Gregory, and more particularly to that of Mr W. F. 
Skene, in as far as it treats of the origin, descent, and affiliations of the 
different Highland tribes. Many of the opinions and views promulgated 
by the latter I have ventured to dispute, at the same time assigning the 
reasons which have led me to differ from him ; but it must, nevertheless, 
be unequivocally admitted, that, without the benefit of his researches 
and those of his immediate predecessor, Mr Gregory, it would have 
been a task of no ordinary difficulty to compile even the faintest sketch 
of the History of the Highland Clans, far less to arrange it in any thing 

like a systematic form. The labour of half a lifetime would hardly have 



been sufficient to collect, examine, and digest the materials which still 
remain buried in the repositories of the principal families of the North ; 
and it is more than doubtful whether the lesult of such researches would 
have, in any degree, repaid the anxiety and toil which the prosecution 
of them would have imposed. Genealogies afford but meagre food for 
the historian, and current traditions or family legends fall more within 
the province of the romancer or the poet, than of him whose business 
it is to ascertain facts, and to endeavour to fix the natural sequence of 
events. Eoth the gentlemen I have named have, each in his own way, 
treated this subject in a truly inquisitive spirit ; and neither, so far as 1 
bave observed, has permitted himself to supply the deficiency of infor- 
mation by drawing upon the resources of his own fancy or imagination. 

I have further to state, that, throughout the whole of this Work, I 
have endeavoured to exercise that strict impartiality, which is incum- 
bent upon every one who undertakes to write history. If I have any 
prejudices, I am unconscious of their existence. If I have done injustice 
to any one, it has been involuntarily and unintentionally. If the opinions 
I have expressed are erroneous, they have at least been honestly formed. 
That I have an affection for the subject, I freely admit ; that I have, 
in any instance, sought to minister to the vanity of the Highlanders 
generally, or to that of individual tribes of the Highland people, I de- 
cidedly deny. Perhaps I shall be accused of having gone to the opposite 
extreme, and made admissions, on disputed points, which a larger share 
of patriotic prudence might have induced me to withhold. Be it so. 
Truth is of no country. There is enough in the Highland character to 
sustain its just and reasonable claims to distinction, without having 
recourse to the absurd exaggerations and embellishments in which too 
many have chosen to indulge. 

Some apology is due to the public for the delay which has occurred 
in bringing out this Work, more especially as it has been entirely im- 
putable to myself, and in no degree whatever owing to my excellent and 
indulgent publishers. Non omnia possinnus omnes. Circumstances over 
which I had no control often interrupted my labours, when most anxious 
to pursue them, and forced me to turn my attention to other and far 
less attractive avocations. But now when the task is completed, I trust 
that any temporary feeling of chagrin or disappointment will be for- 
gotten, and that no extrinsic consideration will be allowed to affect the 
judgment the public may be disposed to pronounce on the Work which 

is at length respectfully submitted to their decision. 

J. R 




Preface, p. vii 

Preliminary Dissertation, pp. i — Ivii 

Catalogues of Gaelic and Irish Manuscripts, ... pp. Iviii— Ixxii 


history of the HIGHLANDS; ROMAN PERIOD. 

Of the aboriginal Tribes of North Britain at the period of Agricola's invasion — Their 
names and topographical positions — State of civilization — Religion — Modes of sepul- 
ture—Barrows, Cairns, Cistvaens and Urns — War weapons — Canoes and Currachs — 
Invasion and Campaigns of Agricola — Battle of the Grampians — Recal and death of 
Agricola — Succeeded by Lollius Urbicus — Wall of Antoninus — Roman Iter through 
the North — Roman highways, and stations or forts — Campaign of Severus — The 
Picts, Scots, and Attacots — Roman abdication of North Britain, . pp. 1 — 35. 


Pof try of the Celts— Antiquity and Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian, pp. 36 — 59. 



I'icis and Caledonians — Chronological Table of the Pictish Kings — The Scoto-Irish or 
Dalriads — Settlement of the Dalriads in Argyle, in five hundred and three, under 
Lorn, Fergus, and Angus — Conversion of the Caledonians, or Picts, to Christianity 
by St. Columba — Inauguration of Aldan, King of Scots, in lona — Death of St. Colum- 
ba — Summary of Pictish History — Wars with the Scots — Arrival of the Vikingr or 
Pirate Kings — Summary of the history of the Scoto-Irish Kings — Accession of 
Kenneth to the Pictish Throne — Government of the Scoto-Irish — Their Judges and 
Laws — Courts of Justice — Mode of Living — Practice of Fosterage — Genealogy and 
Chronology of the §coto-Irish Kings, ..... pp. 60 — 78. 



Pictavian Kingdom — Attacks of the Danish Vikingr — Death of Kenneth Macalpin — 
Defeat of the Danes by Constantine III. — Battles of Brunanburg, of the Bands, and 
of Luncarty — New Inroads of the Danes — Their defeat — Usurpation of Macbeth — 
Malcolm Ceanmore — Accession of Donal-bane — Music and JMusical Instruments 
of the Highlanders — Learning and Civilization — Chronological Table of the Scottish 
Kings, Anno 843—1097, pp. 7» — 93. 



Philological demarcation between the Highlands and Lowlands — Anglo-Saxon coloni- 
zation of the Highlands — Characteristics of the Highlanders — Care shown by them 
in educating their Children — Highland Garb — Dress of the women — Antiquity of 
Tartan — Superstitions of the Highlanders — Kelpies, Urisks, Daoine Shi, &c. — 
Second Sight — Weddings — Matrimonial fidelity — Punishment of the breach thereof 
— Reciprocal attachment of Parents and Children^Disgrace and Punishment of 
Bankruptcy — Fidelity in performing engagements — Courage — Love of Comitry— 
Contempt of Death — Hospitality, pp.96 — 126. 


Consequences of the removal of the seat of Government — Institution of Chiefs — Their 
great power — System of Clanship — Military ranks of the Clans - Fiery-cross — War 
cry — Omens — Hunting provision — Numerical strength of the Clans — Remarkable 
succession of the Chiefs — Consequences of Clanship — Disputes of the Clans — Treaties 
— Spirit of hostility and revenge — Modes of warfare — Creachs — Cearnachs — Black 
mail — Absence of theft and highway robbery — Voluntary tribunals — Compensation 
for injuries — Mild but arbitrary sway of the Chiefs — Legal authority conferred on the 
great Barons and Chiefs — its extent — attendance at their courts — Donations to Chiefs 
and younger sons and daughters on marriage — Attachment and fidelity of the Clans 
to their Chiefs — Instances thereof, ..... pp. 127 — 143. 


Accession of Alexander I. — Defeat of the Earl of INIoray at Stracathrow — Insurrection 
in Moray — Rising of Somerled, Lord of the Isles — Defeat of Earl Gilchrist — New re- 
volt of Somerled — Tumults in Ross — Rebellion of Donal Bane — His death — Attempts 
cf Harold, Earl of Orkney and Caithness — Insurrections in Ross, Moray, and Arcyle 

— Revolt of Gillespoc M'Scolane — Inauguration of Alexander III Revolt in Ross 

against the Earl — Battle of Bealligh-ne-Broig — Robert Bruce defeats the Lord of 
Lorn — His expedition against the Western Isles — Their submission — New revolt of the 
Islanders — Feud between the Monroes and Mackintoshes — and between the Clan 
Chattan and the Camerons — Combat on the North Inch of Perth between the Clan 
Chattan and Clan Kay — Devastations of the Wolf of Badenoch and his son — Battle 
of Gasklune — Feud between the Earl of Sutherland and the Mackays — Battle of 
Tuttim-Turwigh — Formidable insurrection of Donald of the Isles — Battle of 
Harlaw, pp. 144 — 162. 


State of the Highlands at the Accession of James I Disturbances in Caithness — Battle 

of HarpisdoU — Arrival of the King at Inverness — Summons the Chiefs to appear 
— Their Seizure and Fate — Revolt of Alexander, Prince of the Isles — Rapid move- 
ment of the King — Alexander surrenders himself and is imprisoned — Insurrection of 
Donald Balloch — Murder of Mowat of Freshwick by Thomas Macneil — his Appre- 
hension and Execution — Battle of Drum-ne-Coub — Lawless State of the Highlands — 
Instance of Shocking Barbarity — Apprehension and Execution of Donald Ross, the 
Perpetrator — Another Expedition by James I. to the Highlands — Commotions in 
Caithness — Battles at Sandset and at Blare Tannie — Insurrection of the Lord of the 
Isles — Combat on the Sands of Strathflect — Conduct of Allan of Lorn of the Wood 
— Alliance l)otween the Lord of the Isles and other Chiefs and Edward IV. of Eng- 
land — Singular Treaty — Rebellion and Excesses of the Earl of Ross — His Submission 
and Assassination —Battle between the Clandonahl and Clankenzie — Combat between 
the Mackays and tl)c Rosses — Perfidious Attempt of the Mackays — Plan of James IV. 
to restore Good dovernnient in the Highlands — Repeated Visits to the Highlands and 
Islands — Feud between Alexander Sutherland of Dilred, and Sir James Dunbar — 
Alexander Dunbar killed by Alexander Sutherland — Execution of Dilred — The Earl 
of Sutherland kills one nephew and wounds another, . . pp. 163 — 177. 




Alliance between the Earl of Sutherland and the Earl of Caithness — Feuds among the 

Mackays — John Mackay ravages Sutherland — Mackay defeated at Torran-Dow 

Quarrel between the Keiths and the Clan Gun — Skirmish at Loch Salchie Combat 

between the Mackays and the Murrays — Alexander Sutherland, the bastard, claims 

the Earldom of Sutherland — His warlike operations, apprehension, and execution 

John Mackay invades Sutherland — His defeat — Dissension among the Clan-Chattan 
— Murder of the Chief — Operations of Hector Mackintosh — INIassacre of the Ogilvies 

— Three hundred of the Mackintoshes executed — Remarkable instance of Fidelity 

Submission of Hector Mackintosh — His Assassination — Donald Mackay invades 
Sutherland — Skirmishes at Aldy-ne-Beth and at Loch Buy — Lawless proceedings of 
the Clanranald — Battle of Blar-Nan-Lein, in which the Frasers are almost annihi- 
lated — Apprehension and punishment of Ewen Allenson and Donald M'Coneilglase 
— Illegal conduct of the Earl of Caithness and Donald Mackay — Apprehension and 
Execution of the chief of the Mackintoshes — Commotions in Sutherland — Expedi- 
tion against the Clanranald — Queen Regent's journey to the Highlands — IMackay's 
depredations — His submission and imprisonment — Devastations of John More- Mackay 

— Severe defeat of the Strathnaver men — Criminal conduct of Mackay Feuds in 

Sutherland and Caithness — Execution of the Chief of the Guns — The Earl and Coun- 
tess of Sutherland poisoned — Mackay of Far wastes Sutherland — The Earl of Caitii- 
ness takes the castle of Skibo, and seizes the young Earl of Sutherland — Feud between 

the Murrays and the Seill-faille — Oppressive proceedings of the Earl of Caithness . 

The Earl of Sutherland rescued — Quarrel between the Monroes and the Mackenzies 
— Renewed oppressions of the Earl of Caithness, . . . pp. 178 198. 


Dispersion of the Murrays and other friends of the Earl of Sutherland — Attempt to 
detach Mackay from the Earl of Caithness — Breaks his engagement — Irruption of the 
Seill-faille into Strathfleet — Arrest and imprisonment of John, Master of Caithness, by 
his father — Death of Mackay — Clan Gun attacked by the Strathnaver men — The latter 
defeated — The Slaight-Ean-Aberigh and the Slaight-Ean-Voir attack the Clan Gun 
— Attack on the Slaight-Ean-Aberigh by William Mackay and the Slaight-Ean- 
Roy — Feud between the Clan Gun and the Slaight-Ean-Aberigh — Attack on the Isle 
of Assint — Meeting of the Earls of Caithness and Sutherland at Elgin — Combination 
against the Clan Gun — Skirmish of Clan-Tom-Richie — Battle of Aldgown — Execu- 
tion of the Chief of the Clan Gun in Caithness — Another meeting between the two Earls 
— New confederacy against the Clan Gun — Departure of the Clan from Caithness. — 
Defeated near Loch Broom — Feud between the Macleans and Macdonalds of the Isles 
— Angus Macdonald of Kintyre arrested by Sir Lauchlan Maclean — His liberation — 
Sir Lauchlan arrested by Macdonald — His release — Invades Ila — Mutual ravages in 
Mull and Kintyre — Sir Lauchlan tampers with Mackean of Ardinmurchie — Imprison- 
ment of Maclean and Macdonald in the castle of Edinburgh — New disputes between 
the houses of Sutherland and Caithness, .... pp. 199 — 212. 


The Earl of Sutherland Invades Caithness — Truce between the two Earls — Caithness 
breaks the truce — Affair of the Creach-ne-Kamkish — Earl of Sutherland again invades 
Caithness — Submission of the people — Fresh truce — Sinclair of Murkle invades Strath- 
ully — Skirmish at Crissalligh — The Earl of Sutherland enters Caithness a third time 
— Meeting of the Earls at Elgin — Dispute between the Gordons and Murrays about 
precedency — Battle of Clyne — Houcheon Mackay invades Caithness — Feud between 
the Clan Gun and other tribes — The Clan-Chattan opposes the Earl of Huntly — 
Quarrel between the Gordons and the Grants — Meeting at Forres of the Grants, Clan- 
Chattan and others — Huntly breaks up the meeting — Huntly's operations against the 
Earl of Moray — Death of the Earl of Moray — Tumults in consequence — Huntly com- 
mitted — Revolt of the Clan-Chattan- Defeated by the Camerons — Defeat of the Grants 
— Clan-Chattan invade Strathdee and Glenmucke — Defeated by the Earl of Huntly — 
March of the Earl of Argyle to the North— Battle of Glcnlivet— Journey of James VI. 


to the North Tumults in Ross — Feud in the Western Isles between the Macleans a no 

Macdonalds — Defeat of the Macleans in Ila — Dispute between the Earls of Sutherland 
and Caithness — Feud between Macdonald of Slate and Sir Roderick Macleod of Har- 
ris — Dreadful excesses in Skye and Uis* — Defeat of the Macleans in Skye — Recon- 
ciliation between Macleod and Macdonald, .... pp.213 — 232. 


Feud between the Colquhouns and Macgregors — Defeat of the Colquhounsand Buchan- 
ans — Harsh proceedings against the Macgregors — The chief of the Macgregors sur- 
renders himself — Base Execution of the Chief and his hostages — Quarrel between the 
Clan-kenzie and Glengary — The latter outlawed— Proceedings against him and his 

people Allister Mack-William -INIoir beheaded — Murder of Angus Mack-Kenneth- 

Mack-Allister Circumstances which led thereto — The Earl of Caithness attempts to 

disturb the North — Deadly quarrel in Dornoch — Meeting of the Earls of Sutherland 
and Caithness at Elgin — Their reconciliation — Dispute between the Earls of Caithness 
and Orkney — Feud between the Murrays and some of the Seill-Thomas — Dissensions 
in Moray among the Dunbars — Quarrel between the Earl of Caithness and the Chief 
of the Mackays — Commotions in Lewis among the Macleods — Proceedings of Torquil 
Connaldagh — Avaricious conduct of the Mackenzies — Invasion of Lewis by Fife ad- 
venturers—They are forced to abandon it — Second invasion and final abandonment of 
Lewis — Plans of Lord Kintail to obtain possession thereof— Acquires right thereto — 
Expulsion of Neill Macleod — Quarrel between the Laird of Rasay and Mackenzie of 
Gairloch — Rasay and Mackenzie, younger of Gairloch, killed — Depredations of 
William Mack- Angus-Rory— Apprehension of Arthur Smith, a false coiner — His 
trial and liberation — Employed by the Earl of Caithness — Commission against Smith 
— Apprehended in Thurso — Tumult in the town in consequence — The Earl of Caith- 
ness prosecutes the Commissioners — Submission of differences, . pp. 233 — 266. 


The Clan-Cameron disturb Lochaber — Invaded by Lord Gordon — Threats of the Earl 
of Caithness to invade Sutherland and Strathnaver — Earl of Sutherland prepares to 
oppose him — Sir Donald Mackay and others pardoned — Earl of Sutherland imprison- 
ed as a suspected Catholic — Liberated — Returns to prison — Liberated again — Fresh 
attempts of the Earl of Caithness — William Mack-Kames settles in Strathnaver — Ap- 
prehended stealing in the Glen of Loth — Oppressions of the Earl of Caithness — Fir- 
ing of the corns of Sanset — Discovery of the Fire-raisers — Legal proceedings against 
the Guns — Earl of Caithness refuses to deliver them up — Agreement between the 
Earl of Caithness, Sir Robert Gordon, and Lord Forbes — Apprehension and impris- 
onment of Lord Berridale — Released — Imprisoned again for debt — Alliance between 
the Earl of Caithness and Sir Donald Mackay — Sir Robert Gordon protects the Clan- 
Gun — Mackay's attempts against the Clan — Dispute between the Earl of Caithness 
and Sir Alexander Gordon of Navidale — Meeting on the marches of Rimbisdale — 
Mackay and Sir R. Gordon reconciled — Quarrel between the Earl of Enzie and the 
Clan-Chattan — The Chief committed to prison — Is reconciled with the Earl — Dispute 
between the Laird of Duffus and Gordon, younger of Embo — Slaughter of Thomas 
Lindsay — Hostile preparations against the Earl of Caithness — Liberation of Lord 
Berridale — Expedition into Caithness — Flight of the Earl — Reduction and Pacifica- 
tion of Caithness, pp. 257 — 286. 


Insurrection of the Clan-Chattan against the Earl of Moray — Incffeotual attempts of the 
Earl to suppress them — Submission of the Clan — Proceedings of the Earl — Dispute 
between the Laird of Duffus and Gortlon, younger of Embo — Conflict between Gor- 
don and John Sutherland of Clyne — Commitment of Gordon — Attempts of Sir Don- 
ald Mackny to embroil (lie houses of Sutherland and Duffus — Capture of Angus Roy 
Ciun — I'ncounter at the bridge of Rroray — Feud among the Grants — Depredations of 
.Tames (Jrant — (irnnt of Carron killed by Grant of Ralindalloch — Apprehension and 
imprisonment of .Tames Grant — Dispute between the Lairds of Frendrau£;ht and Ro- 
thiemay — Conflict — ll'lhieniay killed — Quarrel between Frendraught and the Laird 
of Pitcaplc — Calamitous Fire at Frendraught house— Death of .lohn, Viscount 


Ahoyne, Rothiemay, ami others — Inquiry as to the cause of the Fire — Escape of 
James Grant — Attacked by Patrick Macgregor, who is killed — Apprehension of Grant 
of Balindalloch, by James Grant — Apprehension and execution of Thomas Grant — 
James Grant murders two of his surname — Attacked in Strathbogie, and escapes — 
Depredations of the Clan-Lauchlan — Skirmish between them and the Farquharsons 
— Dispute between the Earl of Sutherland and Lord Lorn — Execution of John Mel- 
drum — Depredations committed upon Frendraught^The Marquis of Huntly accused 
therewith — The Marquis and Letterfourie committed — Liberated — Death and charac- 
ter of the Marquis, pp. 287—313. 


Attempt of Charles L to introduce Episcopacy into Scotland — Opposition of the Cove 
nanters — Preparations for war — Marquis of Huntly raises the royal standard in the 
North — The Earl of Sutherland joins the Earl of Seaforth and other Covenanters in 
the North — Raid of Turriff — the Earl of Montrose and General Leslie enter Aberdeen 
— Meeting between Montrose and the Marquis of Huntly — Arrest of the Marquis — 
Imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh — Meetings of Covenanters at Moneymusk and 
Turriff — The Trott of Turray — Rising of the Gordons — Landing of Viscount Aboyne 
at Aberdeen — Raid of Stonehaven — Battle at the Bridge of Dee — Flight of Aboyne 
— Pacification of Berwick — New preparations for war — Imprisonment of Montrose — 
Liberated and goes to England — Meeting of Convention of Estates — Montrose takes 
Dumfries — Retires to Carlisle — Rising in the north under the Marquis of Huntly — 
Montrose enters Scotland — Arrives at Tulliebelton House — Landing of Irish forces in 
the West Highlands — Meeting of Montrose and Alexander Macdonald in Athole — 
Junction of the Athole men — Montrose advances into Stratherne — Joined by Lord 
Kilpont — Battle of Tippermuir, pp.314 — 341. 


March of Montrose across the Tay to Collace — Assassination of Lord Kilpont — Marches 
through Angus and the Mearns — Joined by the Earl of Airly and others — Battle of 
Aberdeen — Supineness of the Gordons — March of Argyle to Strathbogie — Retreat of 
Montrose through Badenoch — Second March of Montrose to the North — Battle of 
Fyvie — Retreat of Montrose to Strathbogie — Desertions in his Ranks — Retires into 
Badenoch and Athole — Montrose enters Breadalbane and Argyle, which he wastes — 
Marches to Lochness — Argyle enters Lochaber — Battle of Inverlochy, pp. 342 — 364. 


Alarm of the Estates — Montrose returns through Badenoch — Marches to Inverness and 
Elgin — Wastes the lands of the Covenanters in Moray — Enters Elgin— Joined by 
Lord Gordon — Crosses the Spey — Plunders Cullen — Death of Lord Graham — Mon 
trose wastes the lands in the Boyne — Enters and plunders Banff — Arrives at Turriff 
— Deputation from Aberdeen — Death of Colonel Donald Farquharson — Montrose 
imposes a tax of ^10,000 on Aberdeen — Enters Stonehaven, which he burns — 
Arrives at Fettercairn — Defeat of Hurry's horse — Enters Brechin — Marches to 
Dunkeld — Storms Dundee — Memorable retreat of Montrose from Dundee — Move- 
ments of General Baillie — Battle of Auldern — Montrose enters Elgin — Battle of A\- 
ford, pp. 365 — 393 


Retreat of General Baillie and the Committee of Estates to Stirling — March of Mon- 
trose to Aberdeen — Interment of Lord Gordon — Buchan laid under assessment by 
Montrose — The Parliament meets at Perth, and orders a levy — Advance of Montrose 
to the south — Joined by the Athole Highlanders, the Macdonalds, Macleans, and 
other Clans — Crosses the Tay, and encamps at Amulree — Removes to the wood of 
Methven — Retreats to Little Dunkeld, where he is joined by the Earls of Aboyne and 
Airly — Advances to Logie Almond — Baillie retires to Kilgraston — March of Montrose 


towards Stirling — Castle Camphell burnt by the Macleans — Mansions of Menstiie and 
Airthrie burnt by Argyle — Progress of the hostile armies — Battle of Kilsyth — Entry 
of Montrose into Glasgow — Encamps on Bothwell Moor — Submission of the Nobility 
and the western shires — Communications with the King — Montrose appointed Lieu- 
tenant-Governor of Scotland — Battle of Philiphaugh, . . pp. 394—420. 


Montrose retires into Athole — Marches north to meet Lord Aboyne — Ineffectual at- 
tempts of Montrose to induce Huntly to join him — Joined by Lord Aboyne, who soon 
deserts him — Execution of Sirs William RoUock, and Philip Nisbet, and Ogilvie, 
younger of Inverquharity — March of Montrose into the Lennox — Returns to Athole 
— Death and character of Lord Napier — Return of Montrose to the North — Marches 
on Inverness — Defeat of the Campbells at Callander by the Athole men — Meeting of 
the Covenanting Parliament at St Andrews — Condemnation and execution of Colonel 
Nathaniel Gordon, Sir Robert Spottiswood, Captain Guthry, and Mr Murray — Escape 
of Lord Ogilvie — Ineffectual attempts of Montrose to reduce Inverness — Town of 
Fraserburgh burnt by the Earl of Crawford — March of General Middleton to Aber- 
deen — And to Inverness — Retreat of IMontrose from Inverness — Capture of Aberdeen 
by Huntly — Abandoned by him — Return of Middleton — The King escapes to the Scots 
army — Montrose ordered by the King to disband his army — Corresponds with the 
King — Meeting between Montrose and Middleton — Montrose disbands his army at 
Rattray — Embarks for the continent, and arrives at Bergen in Norway, pp. 421 — 447. 

The Binder is requested to insert Map of Clans at end of Dissertation. 



Notwithstanding the researches of the learned to trace the origin 
of nations and the descent and progress of the different branches of the 
great human family, as found at the dawn of history, it must be con- 
fessed that the result has been far from satisfactory, and that many of 
the systems which have been proposed are built upon the most gratui- 
tous and chimerical hypotheses. By a comparison of languages, how- 
ever, considerable light has been thrown upon the affinities of nations ; 
but beyond these philological investigations, every thing becomes vague 
and uncertain. 

Some modern writers, particularly amongst the Germans, with that 
unfortunate latitudinarianism of interpretation which distinguishes the dis- 
ciples of the neologian school, consider the deluge as having been confin- 
ed to a small portion of the globe ; and upon this gratuitous hypothesis 
they have raised the most incongruous systems. Klaproth, although he 
very properly disclaims the intention of deriving all languages from one 
primitive tongue, nevertheless makes the following extraordinary observa- 
tions : " The wide dispersion of the Indo-Germanic* race took place pro- 
bably before the flood of Noah : besides, it is the only Asiatic one which 
appears to have descended, after that event, from two high mountains, 
namely, from the Himalaya into India and Middle Asia, and on the 
west from the Kaukasus into Asia Minor and Europe. In India this 
race mixed itself much with the dark-coloured aborigines, and, though 
its speech predominated, its physical characteristics were deteriorated, 
as has ever been the case when a mixture has taken place between 
a white and black, or brown race; when the physical qualities of the 
latter, and the moral qualities of each undergo an inevitable change. 

• Indians, Persians, Afghans, Kurds, Medes, Ossetes, Armenians, Sclavonians, Ger- 
mans, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, English, Greeks, Romans, and all the people who 
speak a language derived from Latin, are reckoned by Klaprotli as Indo-Germanic 
I. a 


The brown or negro-like aborigines of India probably saved themselves 
during the flood of Noah on the high mountains of Malabar and the 
Ghauts.* In the dialects of the southern parts of India, there appears 
to be a number of roots and words received from the aborigines, and 
some remains of such words may perhaps be found among the wild 
mountain-people in the northern parts. From the Kaukasus, another 
branch of this stem seems to have descended upon the banks of the 
Caspian sea, and proceeded into Media ; and thence peopled Persia. 
Afterwards they probably migrated into Asia Minor, and first into 
southern, and then into northern Europe."f 

In this way does Klaproth, founding upon a series of the merest as- 
sumptions, coolly set aside the whole Mosaic account of the deluge ; — 
and we need not therefore wonder the same fate has befallen him 
with other writers who have departed from the short but distinct 
narrative of the sacred historian, namely, being obliged to wander in 
Cimmerian darkness, without even an occasional glimmering of light 
to direct his steps. For if the Mosaic history be rejected, it is per- 
fectly evident that all speculations respecting the original peopling of 
the world can rest upon no foundation whatever, as the first dawning of 
profane tradition and history is scarcely discernible earlier than 1200 
or 1300 years before the Christian era.f In proportion, therefore, as 
the Mosaic account is departed from, the more confused and perplexed 
do all such speculations become; an evident proof indeed of the vanity 
of human pretensions when opposed to the authority of divine revelation. 

From the account given by Moses, we must consider the great plain in 
the land of Shinar, or Mesopotamia, as the cradle of the human race, 
whence, as from a common centre, the different streams of population di- 
verged upon the miraculous destruction of the uniformity of speech, and 
the creation of a variety of languages altogether distinct from one another. 
Of the number and description of the languages thus miraculously brought 
into existence, the sacred historian is silent, and, consequently, any in- 
quiries to ascertain, with some degree of certaint}'^, either the one or the 
other, must, amidst the immense variety of languages and dialects which 
now exist, be in a great measure indefinite and conjectural. By the 
aid of philology, however, some approximation has been made towards 
a solution of these recondite questions, but from the absence of histori- 
cal detail, they must ever be regarded rather as curious speculations, 
than as points conclusively settled. 

At that era when the dawn of history begins to dispel the dark 
cloud which had overshadowed the early ages of the world, the western 
countries of Europe were occupied by tribes differing from each other 
m manners, customs, and language, and distinguished by varieties in 
their physical constitution. When the Greek and Roman writers first 

• The Glmuts nnd the mountains of Malabar are identical. 

f Asia, Polyfilotta, p. 43, 44. 

I Kennedy's lusoarchcs, p. 218. 


began to turn their eyes westward, they found Europe, from die banks 
of the Danube to the remotest shores of Ireland, peopled by a race 
called Gauls or Celts, or rather Kelts, who, before they had attached 
themselves to the soil by tillage, had overspread a considerable part of 
Spain in the course of their armed migrations, and had even poured 
their predatory bands through the Alpine passes into the great plain of 
northern Italy. They extended along the Danube as far as the Euxine, 
and spread themselves till they were met on different sides by the Sar- 
matians, Thracians, and lUyrians. As their expeditions were in ge- 
neral prior to the period of history, we have but slender means of 
probable conjecture as to the antiquity, extent, and direction of the 
great migratory movements of this remarkable race. Their later incur- 
Bions or establishments in Italy are, however, better known ; and even 
in tiie oldest memorials we can scarcely discern a trace of those wander- 
ings or migrations of tribes which must, nevertheless, have originally 
filled this region of the earth with inhabitants.* 

From a remote antiquity, the whole of the country between the Euxine 
and the German ocean appears to have been possessed by the Cimmerii or 
Cimbri, one of the grand divisions of the Celts ; whilst Gaul was occupied 
by the other division, to which the name of Celtae was more properly and 
commonly applied.f Herodotus:]: mentions the Celts and Cynetae as in- 
habiting the remotest parts of Europe towards the setting of the sun, near 
the sources of the Ister or Danube ; but it is unknown during how many 
ages they had occupied this region before the father of history obtained 
this, which is the earliest, notice of them. Aristotle§ and other ancient 
writers give us nearly the same information with Herodotus, whom they 
probably followed. With regard to Britain, it must have been inhabit- 
ed at a period anterior to the Trojan war, since, from the statement of 
Herodotus, it appears that tin exported from Britain by Phoenician 
traders, was at that time in general use ; a circumstance which evident- 
ly implies, that our island was then peopled by a race who had already 
explored its metallic treasures ; whilst, from other considerations, it 
has, with much probability, been inferred, that the earliest settlers or 
inhabitants of Britain were of Celtic origin. But at what precise 
period of time the Celts found their way into Britain, is a question 
involved in impenetrable obscurity, nor can it be ascertained in a 
satisfactory manner whether the original Celtic population of Scotland 
sprung from the Cimmerii or Cimbri, one of the great divisions of the 
Celtae, whose possessions extended from the Bosphorus Cimmerius on the 
Euxine, to the Cimbric Chersonesus of Denmark, and to the Rhine ; 
or from the Celtae, properly and peculiarly so called, who inhabited 
ancient Gaul. 

* Mackintosh, History of England, >ol. i. Introduction, p. 2.— Prichard on the 
Eastern Origin of the Celtic Nations, p. 14. 
t Pinkerton, Dissertation on the Scythians or Goths. Part I. chap. iv. 
t Lii). ii. and iv. § In Meteorol. De Gen. Anims, lib. ii. c. 18. 


Mr Pinkertoa, following the authority of Tacitus and the common 
li*adition, is of opinion that as the southern part of Britain was first 
peopled from Gaul by Gael, who were afterwards expelled by Cumri 
from Germany, so there is reason to infer, that the northern part o-f Bri. 
tain was first peopled by Cumri from Jutland, the passage from the Cira- 
bric Chersonesus to North Britain through open sea being more easy than 
that from the south of Britain to the north through vast forests. The 
sea, so far from hindering, promotes even savage colonization ; and late 
navigators have found islands in the Pacific Ocean, five or six hundred 
miles distant from each other^ all peopled by one race of men. Where 
men and sea exist, canoes are always found, even in the earliest state ot 
society, and the savage Finns and Greenlanders perform far longer navi- 
gations than that from Jutland to Scotland. The length of Britain is so 
great from south to north, that to people the latter from the former, must 
have been a work of many ages ; whereas, the passage from Germany was 
open and easy. The Picts, he continues, came from Norway to Scotland, 
and we may infer from analogy, that the first Celtic inhabitants of the 
latter country proceeded from the north of Germany ; for the Cimbri or 
Cumri possessed the coast of Germany opposite to North Britain, or the 
Cimbric Chersonesus, even down to a late period. As it is improbable 
that the north of Britain remained without Celtic inhabitants, whilst all 
the opposite country of Germany was held by them, it is reasonable to 
infer, that the Cimbri were the first inhabitants of Scotland. But when 
we find Cimbric names of mountains and rivers remaining in the most 
remote parts of Scotland, the inference acquires as much certainty as the 
case will admit of. These Cimbri, the supposed first inhabitants of Scot- 
land, were of one and the same great stock with the Cumri or Welsh; 
the Welsh, however, are not their descendants, but only remains of the 
Cimbri of South Britain, who passed from the opposite coast of Germany, 
and drove the Gael or Gauls, the first inhabitants, into Ireland. In the 
opinion of Tacitus,* the aboriginal population of Scotland came out ot 
German}', and, according to a tradition in the time of the Venerable 
Bede,|- tlie Picts or Caledonians, who were probably the first inhabitants 
of North Britain, were said to have originally proceeded from Scythia ; 
a generic term used by Strabo,:|: Diodorus,§ and Pliny, I| to denote the 
northern division of the European continent, in which sense it is adopt- 
ed by Bede.^ 

Father Innes, a more sound and dispassionate inquirer than Pinker- 
ton, supposes, however, that as the Caledonian Britons or Picts were of 
the same origin as the Britons of the south ; and that as the latter un- 
questionably came into Britain from the nearest coasts of the Gauls, they 
advanced by degrees, as they multiplied in the island, and peopled the 

• TaciU in Vit. Aglc. No. 11. f Bode, 1. i. c. 1. 

$ Strabo, p. 507. S Diodor. 1. vi. c. 7. || Plin. 1. \\. c. 13. 

4] rinknton on the earliest Celtic inliabiianls of Scotland. I'ait 1. chap. ii. 


southern parts of it, towards the more northern parts and seated them- 
selves there, carrying along with them the same customs as the Britcns 
of the south, and the same language derived originally from the Celts 
or Gauls. He observes, that Tacitus himself seems at last to have 
come into this opinion ; for after his conjecture about the origin of tlie 
Caledonians and of the Silures, he adds, without exception as to all the 
Britons, that it was more likely that the Gauls from the neighbouring 
coast had at first peopled the island.* This was certainly the more 
natural way, for so the earth was at first peopled. Men, as their num- 
bers increased in their first habitations, were obliged to advance to new- 
ones in their neighbourhood, to transport themselves not only over 
rivers, but across the narrowest arms of the sea, at first only to the 
nearest lands, or islands, which they could easily discern from their own 
coasts, before they durst adventure on sea voyages out of sight of land, 
especially in those early times when men were ignorant of the compass 
and art of navigation. Hence, it is much more probable, that the first 
Inhabitants of the northern parts of Britain, came rather from the 
southern parts of the island than from Scandinavia, or from other parts 
of the northern continent, at the distance of several days' sail from any 
part of Britain.f 

In support of the hypothesis that the aboriginal inhabitants of North 
Britain came from Gaul, Mr Innes refers to Herodian, Dio Cassius, and 
even to Tacitus himself, all of whom ordinarily call the Caledonians Bri- 
tons, without any other distinction than that of their living in the most 
northerly part of the island, and of their having maintained their liberty 
with greater courage and unanimity than the Britons of the south against, 
the Roman power, to which last characteristic allusion is made in the 
celebrated speech of Galgacus to his army when about to engage with 
the legions of Agricola. According to Tacitus, this intrepid chief told 
his countrymen that they were the most noble among the Britons (wo- 
hillssimi totius Britannice)^ who had never beheld slavery, far less 
felt it ; the only difference which, from the harangue of Galgacus, seems 
to have then existed between the Caledonians and the Britons of the 

The defiles of the Caucasus, with the Bosphorus and Hellespont, are 
evidently the channels through which the streams of population flowed 
into Europe ; and Thrace, which received its original population from 
Asia Minor, was probably the first land in our division of the globe 
which was trodden by human footsteps , for although the intervening coun- 
tries of Lesser Asia, by presenting inducements for colonization, might 
have retarded the progress of emigration, yet, as there was no formidable 
mountain barrier like the Caucasian chain to stem the current of popu- 
lation, it may fairly be presumed that Thrace was the first European 

• " In adversum tamen estimanti, Gallos vicinum solum occupasse credibile est." — 
Tacit, vit. Agric. No. 11. 

t Critical Essay. London. 1729, vol. i. p. 70, 71 " t Ibid. p. 71, 72, 


country which received its portion of the human race. But be this 
as it may, it is quite clear, from a variety of circumstances, that 
Thrace, and indeed all the countries to the south of the Danube, were 
originally peopled from Asia Minor.* Adelung,f indeed, supposes 
that the latter country was originally inhabited by people of the Sem- 
itic branch, who were afterwards supplanted in the principal and w^est- 
ern division of the country by emigrating colonies of Thracians; but 
although several tribes of the Semitic family, such as the Cilicians, Cap- 
padocians, and Lydians, who are supposed to have been of Semitic ori- 
gin, lived In Asia Minor, there seems no sufficient grounds for an opinion, 
which, besides its inherent improbability, is contrary to history. 

In process of time the descendants of the races which had penetrated 
into Europe through the Caucasus, and by the Bosphorus and Hellespont, 
converged upon the Danube, whence they spread themselves over the 
neighbouring countries. Pressed by the influx of population from the 
north, or desirous of conquest, several tribes of the Thracian race 
abandoned their possessions in Europe at an early period, and cross- 
ed over into Lesser Asia in quest of new settlements. These tribes 
took possession of the northern and western tracts of that country under 
the denomination of Phrygians, Bithynians, and Mysians.J But not- 
withstanding this reflux of population, the Thracians in Europe still 
continued a great and powerful nation, and according to Herodotus, 
they were the most numerous of all nations, next to the Indians, 
and would have been invincible had they been united under one chief 
or head. Of the Thracian race, the people known by the primary or 
generic denomination of Getae, formed a considerable branch. In 
Europe the dominions of the Thracians lay between the Euxine and the 
Adriatic, and were bordered on the south by the territories of the Pel- 
asgi, the first inhabitants of Greece. The Illyrians also were another 
branch of the same stem. 

From Thrace Greece was first peopled by the Pelasgi, a tribe of 
Thracian origin, who gave the name of Pelasgia to all Greece. To the 
Pelasgians, so called from Pelasgus, a fabulous king of Arcadia, and a 
mixture of other early settlers, the Greek nation is probably indebted 
for its origin ; § for the isolated passage from Herodotus, respecting an 
alleged difference between the languages of the Pelasgi of Kreston, and of 
Placia and Scylace on the Hellespont, and that of the Hellenes, does not, 
in the opinion of the learned, warrant the conclusion, that the Hellenic 
people were a different race, a conclusion »vhich would not only be con- 
trary to what the father of history elsewhere states, but also opposed to 
the authority of other ancient writers. The Greek nation was chiefly dis- 
tinguished into three races, namely, the iEolians, the lonians, and the 
Dorians, each of which spoke a different dialect, of which the iEolic has 

• Mitfo.d's History of Greccr, vol. i. p. 52, 251. f MillnidatO-s, vol. ii. p. Pr44. 

J Ilorodutus, Stral>o. S iMillurd, Jlist, of Giecce, vol. i. p. iO. 


been considered as the most ancient. The last mentioned branch having 
acquired an ascendancy in Pelasgia, gave the name of Hellas to ancient 
Greece, from Hellen the son of Deucalion who reigned in Thessaly, 
whom fable reports as the father of this race, and from whose name 
they took the appellation of Hellenes, which they gradually imposed 
upon the other inhabitants of Pelasgia. According to Thucydides, the 
Dorians or Hellenes were a clan celebrated for their exploits in the 
neighbourhood of Phthiotis, and the term Hellenes, by which they 
were particularly distinguished, was gradually extended to other Gre- 
cian tribes, who obtained their military aid, and between whom and 
their chiefs a sort of feudal association was maintained ; but he observes 
that the name did not prevail generally in Greece till a long period after- 
wards. " Of this," says Thucydides, '* Homer is my chief testimony. 
For although he lived much later than the Trojan war, he has not 
by any means given to all the people of Greece the name T)f Hellenes, 
nor indeed to any others than those who came with Achilles from 
Phthiotis, and who were the first Hellenes." * He afterwards observes 
that Homer distinguishes the other Greeks by the names of Danai, 
Argivi, and Achsei.f 

From the great variety and mixture of races of which the ancient 
population of Italy was composed, the genealogy of its tribes cannot 
be traced with the same accuracy as that of the races, which at an 
early period peopled the other regions of Europe. Whilst from its 
j)eninsular situation it was of easy access to colonists by sea either from 
Greece or Asia, it was always liable to the inroads of the migratory 
hordes which entered western Europe by the route indicated by the 
course of the Danube ; and thus the stream of population poured in 
from opposite directions, and nations originally distinct became so 
amalgamated, that their distinctive characteristics were almost either obli- 
terated, or were rendered so confused and perplexed, as to require the 
utmost stretch of critical acumen to unravel them. It was long before 
the historical divisions of mankind were restricted to the natural boun- 
daries of nations, and it was not until those boundaries had been often 
changed, and the great divisions of the human race had been split into 
numerous subdivisions, and intermingled, by changes in the course of 
emigration, that these boundaries became fixed in the way that we now 
behold them. 

Long before the dawn of authentic history, the greater part of the Italian 
peninsula appears to have been occupied and settled by different races of 
men, as every account which has reached us of the arrival of a new colony, 
mentions that the advencB, or new comers, found certain tribes which they 
termed Aborigines, already in possession of the soil. But whence did these 
primi cultores Italice proceed ? That they were of eastern origin seems 
to be admitted on all hands, but the course of their migrations has been 

• Thucyd. lib. i. cap. 2. t Ibid. lib. i. cap. 3. 


a subject of dispute among the learned. The Abbate Lanzi* mentiono 
(and he is supported in his opinion by the greater part of the Italian 
antiquaries and philologists), that the Pelasgi or Hellenes originally peo- 
pled Italy, and after having landed on its southern extremity, gradually 
spread themselves over the country to the northward. But the learned 
of other countries, particularly Freret, Heyne, and Adelung, maintain in 
opposition to Lanzi and his followers, that a portion of the tribes which 
first peopled Italy, must, in their progress to that peninsula, have tra- 
versed the northern regions of Asia and Europe, and have penetrated 
by the defiles of the Alps into the valley of the Po, and the great 
plain of Continental Italy, or Cisalpine Gaul.f 

Of the route followed by the Nomadic tribes, which originally peopled 
the southern and western countries of Europe, in their migrations from 
the east, no certain account can be given ; but it is well known, that these 
movements were generally to the westward ; and it is highly probable that 
the great route of these migrations was between the chain of the Alps, 
which forms the northern boundary of the Italian peninsula, and the 
Danube. On reaching the Alpine barrier, several of the more en- 
terprising tribes would turn to the left and enter the plains of Italy 
by the passes of the Tyrol, or by those in the Maritime or Julian Alps. 
These aborigines would, in process of time, and from various causes, gra- 
dually advance to the southward, and as the descendants of these ori- 
ginal settlers were never expelled from Italy, the inhabitants of southern 
Italy may partly be regarded as the offspring of those who first de- 
scended into the plains of Lombardy. 

As the precise route of the successive hordes of barbarians who invad- 
ed and peopled Italy cannot now be determined, neither can the different 
periods of their emigrations be ascertained. All that we know for certain, 
is, that at the dawn of history, Italy was occupied by a variety of tribes 
speaking different languages or dialects, who had arrived at different de- 
grees of civilization. Some writers have divided these tribes into five 
classes, according to their presumed antiquity, viz. Illyrians, Iberians, 
Celts, Pelasgians, and Etruscans, whilst others classify them under the 
denominations of Umbrians, Etruscans, CEnotrians, and Ausonians or 

There are no data by which to ascertain the epochs of the different 
emigrations of these tribes. The four classes first-mentioned were in 
possession of Italy before the arrival of the Hellenic colonies in Magna 
Grrecia; but with tlie exception of the Etruscans, who immediately pre- 
ceded them, it appears doubtful whether the Illyrians, Iberians, or 
Colts, have the best title to priority of occupancy. If the Umbrians 
were of Celtic origin, as there is reason to believe, the north of Italy 
was probably first peopled by the Celts, as all the ancient writers who 

• Saggio di Lingua Etrusca et di Altre Antiche d' Italia. 
f Edin. Review, No. LXXX. p. 379. 


allude to the Umbri, represent them as the most ancient people known 
to ave inhabited that region.* The Illyrians, who were of Thraciau 
origin, had from the most remote ages established themselves on the 
coasts of the Adriatic, between Pannonia, Noricum, and Epirus, and 
are supposed to have entered Italy about sixteen centuries before the 
Christian era. They consisted, it is believed, of three tribes, viz. the 
Libumi, the Siculi, and the Heneti or Veneti. The first settlement 
of the Libumi, who are supposed by some writers to have been the 
most ancient inhabitants of Italy, was between the Alps and the Adige. 
They afterwards crossed the Po, and spread themselves along the western 
coasts of the Adriatic, but the pressure of new colonies from the north 
forced them to move further southward to the provinces of Terra di Bari, 
and Terra di Otranto, where they were subdivided into three branches, 
the lapyges, the Peucetii, and the Calabri. The tribe which next 
followed the Libumi, was the Siculi, originally from the frontiers oF 
Dalmatia. They took possession of middle Italy as far as the Tiber, with 
the exception of the districts on the Adriatic which the Libumi had pre- 
viously occupied ; but forced from their new possessions, and from the 
extremity of the peninsula, to which they were driven by new settlers, 
they crossed the strait of Messina, and colonized the eastern part of 
Sicily, to which they gave their name. This event, according to Hel- 
lanicus, who is cited by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, took place eighty 
years before the taking of Troy ; but Thucydides fixes it at a later 
period. The Heneti or Veneti, the last of the lUyrian tribes who 
entered Italy, settled to the northward of the Po, where they long 
maintained their independence against the inroads of the Gauls, when 
the latter over-ran northern Italy, about the close of the sixth cen- 
tury before our era. 

The Iberians penetrated into Italy after the Illyrians. They are 
supposed to have proceeded from Aquitania, and to have entered Italy 
through the country of Nice. The Iberi are reputed by some writers 
as the oldest inhabitants of the west of Europe. They were certainly 
the original inhabitants of Spain, a circumstance which gave rise to 
a tradition mentioned by Strabo, that Pontus was peopled from Spain ; 
but this is contrary to analogy, the course of migration having invari- 
ably been from east to west. On entering Italy the Iberians possessed 
themselves of the district, subsequently termed the Riviera di Genoa, 
and thereafter gradually spread themselves over the coasts of Tus- 
cany, Latiura, and the Campagna, as it is now called. In process of 
time they were driven by the Ligurians, probably a Celtic tribe, to the 
extremity of the peninsula, and following the example of the Siculi, 
they crossed the strait of Messina, and established themselves on the 
western coast of Sicily, under the denomination of Sicani, which they 
took from the river Sicanus. 

• Herod. I. cap. 94 Piiny, Hist. Nut. lib. iii. c. v, xiv. 
I. b 


The Etruscans, as forming a powerful and important nation of an- 
cient Italy, come next to be considered. According to Dionysius ot 
Halicarnassus,* they called themselves by the national appellation of 
Rasenna ; but they were generally called Tyrseni or Tyrrheni, by the 
Greeks, and Tusci or Thusci by the Romans. At the dawn of his- 
tory, and long before the building of Rome, this remarkable race ap- 
pears to have possessed a great part of the country originally belonging 
to the Umbri, whom they drove from the maritime parts of the ancient 
Umbria into the defiles of the Apennines. 

No subject has puzzled ancient and modern writers more than the 
origin of the Etruscans. According to Herodotus,f they were a colony 
of Lydians, a Pelasgian tribe, who were compelled by ^mine to leave 
their abodes in Asia under the conduct of Tyrrhenus, the son of Atys 
their king, and who, after visiting many shores, fixed themselves in 
Umbria under the appellation of Tyrrhenians, from the name of their 
leader. This tradition, which the father of history obtained from 
the people of Lydia, has been adopted by almost all the ancient 
writers, whether poets, historians, or geographers. Though embel- 
lished with circumstances of a fabulous nature, the outline of the story 
is not improbable, and the descent of the Etruscans from the Lydians 
might have been credited but for the silence of Xanthus the Lydian 
historian, who lived a short time before Herodotus, and who, in a work 
of great credit which he compiled on the antiquities of his country, is 
silent respecting the Etruscans or their origin. 

From the Etruscan language having been spoken in the mountain- 
ous tracts bordering on the northern Etruria, a conjecture has been 
hazarded that the Etruscans were descendants of the people who, at the 
time of their emigration into Etruria, lived among the ilhaetian Alps ; 
but in the absence of any data on which to found such an hypothesis, it is 
more reasonable to suppose that as the Etruscans inhabited the adja- 
cent plains of the Po for many centuries, they gradually propagated 
their dialect in the adjoining districts as they extended their possessions, 
than that such a powerful and populous nation should have sprung from 
the comparatively insignificant stock which inhabited the neighbouring 
Alps. The opinion maintained by tl.e Senator Buonarotti, by Gorius, 
Guarnacci, Mazzochi, MafFei, and Lord Monboddo, that the Etruscans 
were of Egyptian descent, scarcely deserves serious consideration when 
opposed to the judgment of Bardelli, Pelloutier, Freret, Funccius, 
Adelung, Heyne, Niebuhr, and other distinguished Italian, French, 
and German antiquarians. These writers, though differing from one 
another in other points, agree in maintaining that the Etruscans were of 
northern and Celtic origin. But although Etruria may have received 
a new accession of population by the Rhoetian valleys when the Gauls 
over-ran the Circumpadaue Etruria, as mentioned by several histo- 

• Anllq. Rom, f Herod, lib. i. cap. ^. 


rians,* the character and manners of the Etruscan people seem to sup- 
port the opinion of the ancient writers, that they were originally a mari- 
time colony from the shores of the Tyrrhenian sea. Their high degree of 
social improvement, their great advancement in the arts, their commer- 
cial industry, and, in short, every circumstance in their history distin- 
guish them from the native inhabitants of Europe, and particularly from 
those who, in these early ages, inhabited mountainous countries. Besides 
practising the art of writing, which was unknown in their time to the 
northern and western nations of Europe, their religious doctrines and 
customs were evidently so connected with the supersitions of the east, 
as almost to demonstrate their oriental origin.f 

When the Rasenna entered Umbria, part of that country was already 
in possession of some Pelasgian tribes from Thessaly and Epirus, who 
are supposed to have imported into Etruria the first elements of civili- 
zation. These tribes having, as is reported, crossed the Adriatic at 
a period long before the Trojan war, seized part of Umbria, where they 
settled and built towns, all which, with the exception of Cortona, were 
afterwards taken by the Etruscans.;}; The latter established themselves 
at first in the plains on both banks of the Po, even to its embouchure, 
whence they gradually extended themselves over the greater part of 
the low country intervening between the Alps and the Apennines. 
They afterwards pushed their conquests to the mouth of the Tiber, and 
entered into an alliance with the Latins, but were baffled in their efforts 
to obtain possession of that corner on the Adriatic, which was occupied 
by the Veneti. The last settlement of the Etruscans was in Campania, 
in the plains round Capua and Nola, whence they expelled the former 
inhabitants, the Osci, who were of the Ausonian or Opic race. The 
first inhabitants of the south of Italy are supposed to have been the 
CEnotrii and the Opici or Ausones ; at least when the Greek colonies 
arrived on the coast of Magna Grascia, they found these two races al- 
ready in possession of southern Italy. The CEnotrii, who were of Arca- 
dian origin, possessed the country between the Scyllacean and Lametine 
gulfs. From the Arcadian Italu3§ they are said by Aristotle and Thu- 
cydides to have given the name of Italy to that district. Dionysius of 
Halicarnassus, on the authority of Antiochus of Syracuse, says, that the 
CEnotrii were afterwards divided mto three branches, and respectively 
called Siceli, Morgetes, and Italietes or Italians, after the names of dif- 
ferent leaders.ll From the CEnotrii were descended the Latins, the 
Peucetii, Chaones, and lapygians of the eastern coast of Italy. 

• Liv. lib. V. cap. 35. Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. iii. cap. 20. Justin, lib, xx. cap. 5. 

f In common with several nations of Asia, the Etruscans held the dogmas of cyclta 
and apocatastases, or fated renovations of the world. Vide Suidas voce Nannacos and Plu- 
tarch, in vita C. Marii. Prichard's Analysis of Egyptian Mythology, book ii. chap. 2. 
and Supplement. 

\ Pliny, uhi supra. Dionys. Halicarn. lib 

♦ Aristot. Politic, lib. iv. cap. 10. Thucyd. lib. vi. cap. 2. 
II Dionys. chap. i. of book i. of Spelhnan's Translation. 


The primitive inhabitants of the central parts of Italy were the 
Ausones or Opici, a barbaric people, whose origin is lost in the mists of 
antiquity. They spoke a language called by the Roman writers Opic or 
Oscan, and appear to have been an extensive nation. They expelled the 
greater part of the Siceli from the south of Italy. The latter passed 
over into Sicily, and the Ausones in their turn were driven from some of 
their possessions by the Etruscans. The Sabines, Samnites, Lucanians, 
and Bruttians, who afterwards over-ran Campania and Magna Griecia, 
were descended from the Ausonian or Opic race. From the identity of 
some Oscan words, which have been preserved, with the Celtic, the 
Oscan is supposed to have been originally a Celtic dialect, a conjecture by 
no means improbable. Indeed, as the original population of Rome con- 
sisted of a mixture of Latins and Sabines, and as its language was formed 
from the dialects of both these nations, there appears to be no other way 
of accounting for the mixture of Celtic words which is found in the 
language of ancient Rome, than by supposing the Ausonians or Opici, 
as well as the Umbrians, to have been of Celtic origin. 

With regard to Spain it appears to have been first peopled by the Iberi. 
The Sicani, a branch of the Iberian race, are supposed to have pos- 
sessed the whole southern coast of Gaul, from which they were driven 
by the Ligurians, who, it is believed, were of Celtic origin. The posses- 
sion of the Ligurians, or Ligyes as they are named by the Greek writers, 
extended from the Rhone to the confines of Spain, at the period when 
the Greeks became acquainted with the western countries of Europe ;* 
but in the time of Polybius they had acquired territories on both sides 
of the Apennines.-]- 

At a period not long subsequent to the age of Herodotus, the Teu- 
tonic nations inhabited the north of Europe. Pytheas of Massalia 
or Massilia, now known by the name of Marseilles, who was con- 
temporary with Aristotle, mentions the Guttones, who inhabited the 
shores of an estuary, which must have been the mouth of the Vistula, 
and carried on a traffic in amber with their neighbours the Teutones,:f 
then well known under that appellation ; and as the Guttones were 
probably Goths, we thus already discern in the north of Europe two 
of the most celebrated nations belonging to the Germanic family, in 
a?a age when the name of Rome had scarcely become known to the 
Greeks. The Finns and Sclavonians are supposed to have been the 
latest of the great nations who formed the population of Europe. 
Finningia and the Fenni, are mentioned both by Tacitus and by 
Pliny. In the age of these writers, the Finns were situated near the 
eastern shores of the Baltic, and had probably extended themselves as 
far as those districts where their descendants were afterwards known under 
the name of Beormahs or Biarmiers. The Sclavonians are not early dis- 
tinguished in Europe under that name ; but the appellation of Wends, 

• Herod, lib. v. •> Pol\b. lib. ii. % riin. Hist. Naf. lib. \xxvit. c.-p. 2. 


given to the Sclavonic race by the Germans, seems to identify them 
with the Venedi, mentioned in the geographical descriptions of Pliny 
and Tacitus, as also with the OviviSctt or Winidse of Ptolemy and Jor- 
randes, these being terms appropriate to the Sclavonic nations. Be- 
sides, it is probable that the Russians were known to Herodotus, and 
that they are mentioned by him under an appellation differing but little 
from that which is now applied to them by their Finnish neighbours. 
The Rhoxolani, first described by Herodotus, are stated by Strabo to 
have inhabited the plains near the sources of the Tanais and the Borys- 
thenes ; and the Finns still distinguish the Muscovites by the name of 
liosso-lainen, or Russian people, a term which, if heard by a Greek, 
would naturally be written Rhoxolani.* 

The German or Teutonic race, though allied in their origin to other 
races of men, may be considered as one particular division of mankind. 
Their connexion, however, with other races, is too distant to come 
within the utmost reach of history, and the limits which distinguish the 
Germans as a peculiar people are very clearly defined. Ancient Ger- 
many was bounded by the Danube and the Rhine on the south ; by the 
Vistula, and the uncertain limits of the Sarmatian tribes and other na- 
tions confounded with them,f on the east ; and by the Rhine and the 
German ocean on the west ; but towards the north it had no precise 
limitation, all the countries beyond the Baltic being included in it.| 

According to Tacitus, the Germans considered their nation as con- 
sisting of three principal tribes, descended, as they represented, from the 
three sons of Mannus, the first man. To these tribes they gave the 
names of Ingeevones, Hermiones, and Istaevones ; but some, as he in- 
forms us, added four other tribes, which they termed Marsi, Gambrivii, 
Suevi, and Vandali. Pliny divides the whole nation into five departments 
or branches. The first class which he terms Vindili (probably the Van- 
dali of Tacitus,) comprehended the Burgundiones, Varini, Carini, and 
Guttones. According to Jornandes, they inhabited the southern shores of 
the Baltic, and the north-eastern parts of Germany. The second tribe 
were the Ingcevones, including the Cimbri, Teutones, and the nations or 
tribes of Cauchi. Their abode was in the north-western countries,! 
where Tacitus also places them in the vicinity of the ocean. The Is- 
taevones, who inhabited the countries adjoining the Rhine, were the third 
tribe. The Hermiones, or fourth class, comprehended the Suevi, Her- 
monduri, Catti, and Cherusci, and, according to Tacitus and Pliny, were 
inland nations. The Suevi, who, in the opinion of Tacitus, were a dis- 
tinct tribe, included several tribes in the eastern part of Germany, as 
the Marcomanni, Quadi, Semnones, Marsingi, Lugii, Burii.§ The fifth 
dijpartment of nations were the Peucini and Bastarnas, the most easterly 

• Pricliard, p. 16. + Mela de Situ Orbis, lib. iii. cap. 3, 

t Priclifird's Researches into the Physical Historij of Mankind, vol. ii. p. 150. 
t Cluverii Germ, p 702. 


of ancient Germany, who were neighbours of the Daci or Getae. Dr 
Prichard considers it as doubtful whether these divisions of Pliny were 
founded on the history and genealogy of the people, or were simply 
geographical arrangements.* 

In the opinion of the author of the Mithridates, the whole Germanic na- 
tion has, from the earliest times, been divided into two great races, whose 
descendants may be easily distinguished from each other by the differ- 
ence of language, or rather of dialect, which distinguishes the Teutonic 
idioms. The Upper German dialect is that harsh and deeply-toned 
language abounding in gutturals and imperfectly articulated consonants, 
and in deep diphthongal sounds which stand in the place of the softer 
dentals and palatines, and of the open vowels of the Lower German 
languages. The classical German or High Dutch, though a softened 
and refined idiom, so far partakes of the character of the Upper Ger- 
man, as to be still one of the harshest languages of Europe. This dif- 
ference of dialect, it has been observed, is so general and so strongly 
marked, that it cannot be supposed to have originated in Germany, but 
argues a very ancient separation of the two races before they quitted 
their abodes in Upper Asia.f 

The Suevi, and the tribes allied to them, who inhabited the north- 
eastern region of ancient Germany, Bohemia, Prussia, and part of 
Poland, (which countries they have since abandoned to nations of the 
Slavonic race,) spoke the Upper German dialect, as did the tribes 
comprehended among the Vandali by Tacitus and Pliny, and a part of 
the Ingeevones. The relative positions of the different branches of 
the Teutonic race underwent a considerable change, however, by a great 
movement at an early period. Long before the Christian era they, along 
with the Cimbri, began to migrate towards Gaul and Italy. Another 
movement took place during the second century, and they made many dis- 
tant conquests. The Alleraanni fixed themselves in the south of Ger- 
many, where they have preserved in Swabia the ancient name of the 
Suevic race, and from whom are descended the present inhabitants of Swit- 
zerland, Alsace, Swabia, the Upper and Middle Rhine. From the Lon- 
gobardi, wlio obtained possession of the eastern parts of Germany, came 
the Bavarians, all the Teutonic people of the Austrian States, and the re- 
mains of the Old Lombards in the Viccntine and Veronese. All the 
tribes in the western parts of ancient Germany belong to the lower or 
western German race, of which stock the old Franks, the Saxons, and 
the Frisians, were the three most celebrated. The old Franks have lost 
their German speech, and have acquired that of the conquered Neustrian 
Gatds. The descendants of the Saxons, mixed with Angles and Jutes, 
speak English in the British isles, and in Germany the Lower Saxon, 
or Platt-Deutsch. The Low Countries and the Seven United Provinces 
wore peopled by the Frisian stock. The first inhabitants of Scandinavia 

• Rcscnrchcs, vol. ii. p. 151. f 1h'n\. p. 155. 


were probably descended from the lower German stock, though the 
Heruli who penetrated into Norway, and the Gutae or Goths of Sweden 
belong undoubtedly to the Teutonic race.* 

The first habitation of the Finns appears to have been on the sides 
of the Table mountains. Certain it is, that as far back as history can 
trace, the countries to a considerable distance on both sides of the Great 
Uralian chain, were possessed, in the earliest times of which we have any 
trace, by a variety of nations connected by marks of a common origin, 
who regarded their Slavonian neighbours, their earliest invaders and 
conquerors, as branches of one race. Klaproth has proposed to distin- 
guish this stock of men by the term Uralian : " All," he says, " that we 
know of them by history and philological researches, indicates their 
origin from the Uralian chain, whence they descended towards the west 
and the east." He adds, that before the movements among the north- 
ern nations they appear to have been spread, at least in Europe, much 
further towards the south than in modern times ; and probably reached 
as far as the Euxine, where they were comprehended with other nations 
under the vague ai3pellation of Scythians.f Though it appears certain 
that some tribes of this stock have crossed the Ural into Europe ; yet, 
as remarked by Dr Prichard, there is no historical ground for supposing 
that the western branch of the Tschudic race, namely, the Finnish na- 
tions, ever inhabited this range of hills. 

According to Gatterer, the Finnish nations, whom he looks upon as 
the remains of the old Scythians, and who all speak only one principal 
language, though divided into various dialects, include the following 
tribes: — 1. The Finns themselves, properly so called, both of Swedish 
and Russian Finland, who give themselves the name of Suoma-labieriy 
but are termed by the Russians Tschuchonetz, or Tschuchna : 2. The 
Laplanders, in the northernmost region of Norway, Sweden, and 
Russia ; by the Russians they are termed Lopari, but they call them- 
selves Sahme and Almag : 3. The Ishores, in Ingermannland, or Ingria, 
so named from the Ishora, or river Inger : 4. The Esthonians, in East- 
land, who are termed Tschud in the Russian annals, and by the Finns 
are called Viro-lainen : 5. The Livonians near Salis, in the circle of 
Riga, and in Courland, on the shore of Angern : 6. The Votes or Voti- 
aks on the river Viatka, in the territory of Kasan and Oremburg, who 
name themselves Ud, or Mordi, and are termed by the Tartars Ar; 
they speak a less mixed dialect, approaching very nearly to that of the 
Tscheremisses, and more closely to that of the Permians : 7. The 
Tscheremisses, or, as they term themselves, 3Iari, on the left side of 
the Volga, in the Kasan and Oremburg territory, whose language is 
nmch intermixed with that of the Tartars : 8. The Morduines, called 
by the Russians Mordwa, who term themselves Moksha, dwell in the 
Oremburg territory ; their language varies greatly from that before 

* Prichard, vol. ii. p. 157. t Asia Polyglotta, p. 182. 


mentioned, and a particular tribe of them, termed Erzja, have a dialect 
somewhat peculiar: 9. The Permians, called in tlie Icelandic Sagas, 
Beormahs; and the Syrjanes; both of these nations live upon the rivers 
Vitchegda and Vim, call themselves Komi, and speak a pure Finnish 
dialect: 10. The Vogouls, called by the Permians, Vagol, and in the 
Russian annals Vogulitsch and Ugritsch, are the first people in Sibe- 
ria, living partly in the mountains of Yugori, and partly along the flat 
countries on both sides of them ; their language corresponds with the 
Hungarian and proper Finnish, but most nearly with that of the Khon- 
dish Ostiaks: 11. The Khondish Ostiaks, or as they name themselves, 
Chondichui, that is, people of the Khonda, live on the lower Irtish, and 
lower Obi, near Surgut, Tobolsk, and Beresof ; their language is most 
nearly allied to that of the Permians and Vogouls : 12. The Hungari- 
ans, who name themselves Madjar, and speak a Finnish dialect.* 

According to Prichard, the Tschudish race may be most conveniently 
divided into three branches. The first, or Finnish branch, may be 
considered as comprehending all the tribes of Finnish extraction, whose 
abodes are to the westward of the White Sea and the great Russian 
lakes ; as the Laplanders, the Finnlanders, Esthonians, Karelians, the 
Lievi, or Lift, in Courland, the Finns of Olonetz, and the remains of the 
same race on the river Inger above mentioned. The second, or Permian 
branch, may include the people of Permia, the Syrcenians and Votiaks, 
comprehending the old Beormahs, as well as the nations termed by 
Klaproth Volgian Finns, namely, the Mordouins, Mokshas, Tscheremis- 
ses, and other tribes in the adjoining parts of the Russian empire. The 
third, or Uralian branch, includes the Vogouls, in the countries near 
the Uralian chain, the Ostiaks of the Obi, and lastly, the Hunga- 
rians, who, notwithstanding their remote separation, are proved, by the 
affinity of their language, to belong to the Siberian, or Eastern depart- 
ment of the Tschudish race. 

Distinct from the Teutonic and Tschudish or Finnish races were the 
Scythae, who inhabited the country between the Danube and the Tanais 
or Don. Some foreign writers of great learning and research, among 
whom Professor Gatterer stands conspicuous, have attempted to show, 
but apparently without success, that the remains of the Tschudish race 
are descended from this celebrated people. Pinkerton and others have 
endeavoured to derive the Goths and Germans, and even the Greeks, 
from the Scythians ; but although the result of their labours affords 
abundant proofs of deep reading and patirnt investigation, they do not 
seem to have sufficiently established their hypothesis. We are rather 
dii^posed to concur in the opinion of a third class of writers who look 
upon the Russians, Poles, Bohemians, and the other Slavonian nations 
as the representatives of the ancient Scythians. Dr Prichard, who ranks 

• Einleituiig in die Synrhronistisclie Univcrsalliistorie. Goling. ITTJ. Gyarmatlii, 
p. 281. 


in the last mentioned class, thinks, notwithstanding, that the Tartars in 
the countries bordering on the Black Sea, have the best right to be 
considered as the true descendants of the Scythians, since they inhabit 
the same limits, and have preserved, from the earliest period of their 
history, a national character and manners remarkably similar to those 
of the old Scythians.* 

Before the Scythians entered Europe, they appear, according to all 
the ancient accounts, to have inhabited the country eastward of the 
Araxes and the Caspian Sea, and probably also the north of Media. 
From their settlements in the east they were forced, at an early period, 
into Europe by the Massagetoe, a powerful nation, whose queen, Tomy- 
ris, is said to have cut off the head of Cyrus the Great, whom she had van- 
quished in battle and made prisoner, f " The nomadic Scythians (says 
Herodotus), living in Asia, being overmatched in war by the Massagetoe, 
passing the river Araxes, emigrated into the Cimmerian territory; for that 
country which the Scy thoe now inhabit, is said to have belonged of old to 
the Cimmerii."J As Homer never mentions the Scythians, and speaks 
of the Cimmerians as a nation existing in his time, it is supposed that 
this emigration of the Scythians must have taken place subsequently to 
the Trojan war. But although the Scythians may not have been 
known under that name to the Greeks in the time of Homer, the de- 
scriptive epithets applied in the Iliad to the inhabitants of the countries 
possessed by the Scythians, seem to indicate that the Scythoe had fixed 
their abode in Europe before the age of Homer. 

Having crossed the great Caucasian chain, between the Euxine and 
Caspian Seas, the Scythians gradually extended themselves over the 
country described by Herodotus and others, as ancient Scythia, from 
which they expelled the Cimmerii or ancient Celtic inhabitants. A 
part, however, of the Cimmerii, protected by the strength of their posi- 
tion, or overlooked by the invaders, long maintained themselves in a 
corner of the Tauric Chersonesus. They Tvere, however, expelled from 
this ancient abode by the Scythians about six hundred and forty years 
before the Christian era, and, crossing the Cimmerian Bosphorus, en- 
tered Asia over the mountains of Caucasus. § 

Originally the term Scytha3 was confined to the people who possessed 
the country between the Danube and the Don; but in process of time, 
the name was applied by the Greeks to all the nations which, like the 
Scythians, properly so called, lived in the Nomadic state. But it. is of 
the Scythse, as a distinct European nation, that we are now speaking. 
Major RenneU, who has thrown great light upon the statements of 
Herodotus, thus explains the opinion of the historian. " The country of 
Scythia he (Herodotus) places next in order to Thrace, going north- 
eastward along the shores of the Euxine and Mseotis. Where Thrace 

* Researches. f Herod. Clio. 201, 215, 216. 

t Melpom. 1 J. and 12. § Herodot. Lib. I. and IV. 

I. c 


ends Scythia begins^ says he, Melp. 99. It will appear, however, that 
the Scythians of Herodotus were the Sarmatae and Getas of the Ro- 
mans ; and his Massagetae the Scythians of the same people, as weH as 

of the Greeks in general, from the date of Alexander's expedition 

The ancients distinguished two countries by the name of Scythia, the 
one extending along the north of the Euxine, the other beyond the Cas- 
pian and Jaxartes The western, or Euxine Scythia, was the one 

invaded by Darius Hystaspes ; on which occasion the lonians, by pre- 
serving his bridge of boats on the Danube, secured his retreat ; and the 
eastern Scythia, called also the country of the Massagetae, was the one 
invaded by Cyrus, in which, according to our author, he lost his life. 
.... So that the proper Scythians of Herodotus were those at the 
Euxine, and those of succeeding writers at the Caspian (or rather 
Aral) and Jaxartes."* 

From the description of ancient Scythia, as given by Herodotus, it 
appears that it was bounded on the east by the Tanais or Don, and 
consequently was confined within the limits of Europe. Scythia pro- 
per, as included between the Danube and the Don, comprehended al- 
most the whole of the Ukraine, including the country of the Nogay Tar- 
tars and the Don Cossacks ; but the course of its northern boundary 
cannot be traced, f Rennell supposes it to have passed from the south- 
ern confines of Polish Prussia eastward, and along the direction of the 
river Sem, from the Borysthenes to the Tanais.:J: 

The neighbours of the Scythians were, on the east, the Sauro 
matae or Sarmatae, who are supposed to have been a branch of the 
same race, as Herodotus says they spoke a dialect of the Scythian 
language. On the north-west were the Neuri ; on the west the Aga- 
thyrsi ; on the side of Poland northward the Androphagi ; and on that 
of Russia the Melanchloeni. These last mentioned nations were pro- 
bably distinct from the Scythian stock. 

The Scythian nation is divided by Herodotus into three parts : the 
Scythae Georgl, or agricultural Scythians ; the Scj^thae Nomades, or 
wandering pastoral Scythians ; and the Scythas Basileii, or Royal Scy- 
thians. The first portion, from their inhabiting the country near the Bo- 
rysthenes, were called Borysthenitae by the Greeks ; but they denomi- 
nated themselves Olbiopolitae. These possessed the western division of 
ancient Scythia, and their territory extended about eleven or twelve days' 
journey up the river. The Scythae Nomades, whose manners corre- 
sponded with those of the modern Tartars of the same region, were to 
the eastward of the Borysthenitae, and still further eastward were the 
Scythae Basileii, who considered themselves of a nobler extraction than 
the rest of the Scythian nation. 

To the term Scythae, as denoting the people who possessed the Sci- 

• Ilennell's Gc graphical System of Herodotus, pp. 40, 47. 

t Ilcrodct. Meljtom. 4S. et seij. Pricl-.ard. \ Ibid. p. 52. 


thia of Herodotus, succeeded that of Sarmatae from Sarmatia, a name 
given by the Romans, and the later Greek writers, to an extensive 
region, comprehending not only Scythia proper, but also the Trans- 
Vistular countries, and reaching northward to an undefined extent.* 
The population of Sarmatia, as thus geographically defined, consisted, 
it appears, of four distinct families or races : first, the Sarmatee, who 
may be considered as the descendants of the more ancient Scythians ; se- 
condly, the Peucini or Basternae, a tribe of Teutonic extraction ; thirdly, 
the Fenni, who possessed the extensive country to the north named 
Finningia by Pliny ; and, lastly, the Venedi, or Venedae, or Wends, as 
they were named by the Germans. 

In the time of Tacitus, the three last mentioned races had become 
so intermixed with the SarmataB, that it appeared doubtful to that dis- 
criminating writer, whether they were to be classed among the Ger- 
mans or the Sarmatse. His words are : " I am in doubt whether to 
reckon the Peucini, Venedi, and Fenni, among the Germans or the 
Sarmatae, although the Peucini, who are by some called Basternae, 
agree with the Germans in language, apparel, and habitations. All of 
them live in filth and laziness. The intermarriages of their chiefs with 
the Sarmatians, have debased them by a mixture of the manners of that 
people. The Venedi have drawn much from this source, for they over- 
run, in their predatory excursions, all the woody and mountainous tracts 
between the Peucini and Fenni. Yet, even these are rather to be re- 
ferred to the Germans, since they build houses, carry shields, and tra- 
vel with speed on foot ; in all which particulars they totally differ from 
the Sarmatians, who pass their time in waggons and on horseback. 
The Fenni live in a state of amazing savageness and squalid poverty. 
They are destitute of arms, horses, and settled abodes ; their food is 
herbs ; their clothing skins ; their bed the ground. Their only depend- 
ance is on their arrows, which, for want of iron, are headed with bone ; 
and the chase is the support of the women as well as the men, who 
wander with them in the pursuit, and claim a share of the prey. Nor 
do they provide any other shelter for their infants from wild beasts and 
storms than a covering of branches twisted together. This is the resort 
of youth ; this is the receptacle of old age."f 

But after the Gothic conquests in the east, it was ascertained, 
that the Venedi or Wends, were neither of German nor Sarmatian ex- 
traction, but of Slavonic origin. Jornandes, the bishop of Ravenna, 
who flourished in the reign of the Emperor Justinian, divides the Sla- 
vonian race, which collectively he calls the Winidae, into three nations, 
namely, the Veneti, Antes, and Sclavi ;:|: but he afterwards distinguishes 
them into the Sclavini and Antes. " To the left side of the Alps (says 
the bishop) surrounding Dacia, through an immense space lying north- 

• Claud. Ptolem. Geograph. Pompoiiius Mela, De Situ Orbis. lib. iii. cap. S. 
t Tacit, de Mor. Germ. cap. xlvi. Aitken'8 translation. 
t Joniand. de Rebtcs Gcticis, cap. xxiii. 


ward of the source of the Vistula, the populous nation of the Winidas 
are settled, who, though they have different names in particular tribes 
and families, are principally distinguished by those of Sclavini and 
Antes." To the westward, between the Danube and the Dniester, he 
places the Sclavini, according to Cluverius ; and, to the eastward of these, 
between the Dniester and the Dnieper, or Borysthenes, he fixes the 
Antes.* The same distinction is adopted by Procopius, the contem- 
porary of Jornandes. 

The accuracy of this division is fully confirmed by the philologi- 
cal researches of the ex-jesuit Dobrowsky, in his " Geschichte der 
Bohmischen Sprache und Literatur," or History of the Bohemian Lan- 
guage and Literature, published in the Transactions of the Royal Bohe- 
mian Society, and of which the substance is given in the second volume 
of Adelung's Mithridates. From a critical examination and com- 
parison of the dialects of the Slavonian language, Dobrowsky was in- 
duced to divide the Slavonic nation into two principal branches, name- 
ly, the Antes or eastern branch, comprehending the Russians and the 
nations in Illyrium of Slavonic origin; and the Slavi or western branch, 
comprehending the Poles, Bohemians, and the Serbes or Wends in the 
north. Though the nations belonging to each branch differ but little 
in speech from each other ; yet the people of one branch are scarcely 
understood by those of the other. 

From specimens of their languages and other historical data, Dr 
Prichard states, as the results of his inquiries, that of the Antes, the 
Russians are the first and chief nation ; that the great Russian nation 
is intermixed with Scandinavians from the Teutonic clan of Rurik, who 
first gave the name of Russians to the Slaves of Novogorod ; and that 
the Little, or Southern, or Kiewite Russians, differ very little in lan- 
guage from the Slaves of Illyrium, from whom the ecclesiastical ana 
old literary language of the Russians were derived. About two hun- 
dred years before the Slaves of Illyrium, consisting of three tribes, the 
Servian, Croatian, and the southern or lUyrian Wends, were converted 
by St Cyril, they made their transit from the countries adjoining 
Southern or Red Russia, and the Carpathian mountains, into the dis- 
tricts on the Adriatic, which they now occupy. The first tribe amongst 
these is the Servian, whose dialect is between the Russian and that of 
the second tribe. To the Servian tribe are referred, 1. The people of 
Servia; 2. The Bosnians; 8. The Bulgarians, intermixed with Tar- 
tars from Bolgari in Kasan ; 4. The Morkchians, and the people of 
Wallachia of Slavonian descent. The Croatian, or second tribe of the 
Ulyrian Slavi, comprehends the Croats, Slavonians proper, and the 
western Dalmatians. The third tribe is to be found in Carinthia, Car- 
niola, and Steyermark. These three tribes belong to the Antes, or 
eastern branch. 

• Cluvcr. Gcrmcoi. Aniiq. p. 677» 



Until a recent period, the Sclavini, or western branch, were the 
most renowned. After the Goths and other Teutonic tribes migrated 
to the southward, their territories were invaded by the Sclavini from the 
eastern countries, who took possession of all the north-east of Germany. 
On the fall of the Thuringian power in the sixth century, they gained 
all the east of Germany to the Saale, and all the northern parts from 
the Vistula to Holstein. The descendants of the Sclavini are, 1. The 
Poles ; 2. The Tschechi or Bohemians, including the Moravians and 
other neighbouring tribes ; 3. The Serbes, formerly a numerous people 
between the Saale and the Oder, of which the Lusatians are the re- 
mains, still speaking a Slavonian dialect; 4. The Northern Wends, 
who formerly inhabited all the northern partst of Germany between 
Holstein and Kassubon, and were divided into two chief nations, the 
Obotrites and the Wiltzes. The Wendish language is now retained by 
only a few scattered tribes of the last mentioned nations. The Cossacks 
are also of Slavonian origin, it being well known that the Russian Cos- 
sacks are the descendants of emigrants from Russia. Of these the Cos- 
sacks of Little Russia, who are descendants of emigrants from Red 
Russia, driven out by the Poles, are generally understood to be the 
most ancient.* 

It thus appears that the European races, in the earliest periods of 
which we have any information respecting them, occupied nearly the 
same relative situation as the tribes chiefly descended from them still 
continue to possess. The few scattered facts or intimations which his- 
tory furnishes, therefore, afford no evidence against the hypothesis that 
different parts of the world were originally filled with autochthones or 
indigenous inhabitants, nor indeed against any other hypothesis or 
theory whatsoever. Great reliance has been placed by many upon 
traits of resemblance in customs and superstitions ; and from the coinci- 
dences of the doctrines of Druidism and the mythology of the Sagas, 
some have ascribed a common origin to the nations of Europe and those 
of the East. But opposed as we are upon the authority of sacred his- 
tory to the opposite theory, we must, nevertheless, observe, that this prin- 
ciple is exceedingly unsafe ; for by a similar mode of reasoning we might 
conclude that the Turks and Tartars came from Arabia, and derive the 
Buddhists of Northern Asia from India, or perhaps from Ceylon. Nor 
can historical traditions, however plausible and striking they may, in some 
instances, appear, fill up the void; because, besides involving every element 
of error, such traditions are found, when examined and compared, to lead 
to contradictory and incompatible results. It is, therefore, only by an 
analysis of languages, which, after all, are in reality the most durable of 
human monuments, and by detecting in their composition common 
elements and forms of speech, that we can ever hope to obtain satisfac- 
tory evidence of the identity or connexion in point of origin of those 

• rrichnn', \o\. ii. p. 197. ct seq. 


races by which they are spoken with ancient nations, whose languages 
have either in whole or in part been preserved. 

The diversity of opinion wh'ch has hitherto prevailed on this subject, 
proves the uncertainty and insufficiency of the data from which inquir- 
ers have hitherto deduced their conclusions. Amongst the ancients, the 
notion that each particular region of the earth was, from the beginning, 
supplied by a separate and distinct creation with its peculiar stock of 
indigenous or native inhabitants, seems to have universally prevailed, 
and the frequent occurrence of such terms as autochthones^ indigence^ or 
aborigines, affords undoubted evidence of the fact. The creation of 
man had indeed been handed down in the Pagan world through an ob- 
scure tradition, which assigned the origin of the Iruman race to a primi- 
tive pair fashioned out of clay by the hand of Prometheus or Jupiter ; 
but this tradition was considered by the better informed amongst the 
Pagans as belonging to mythology; which, in its literal sense at least, was 
with them of little authority.* Unacquainted with the affinity of lan- 
guages, and puzzled by the varieties of the human species, the ancients 
adopted an opinion which was quite natural, but which no believer in 
sacred history can embrace, without repudiating the authority of revela- 
tion itself. 

Amongst Jews and Christians the prevailing belief founded upon the 
authority of scripture, has ever been, that all the natives of the earth 
originated from a common parentage ; a belief which it is impossible to 
reconcile with a different hypothesis. Many learned men of late, chief- 
ly on the continent, particularly among the French naturalists and phy- 
siologists, and the writers on history and antiquities in Germany, have, 
however, ventured to espouse the opinion of the ancient pagans on this 
subject. Amongst the former there are some who speak of the Adamic 
race as of one amongst many distinct tribes, and others who broadly 
controvert its claims to be considered as the primary stock of the human 
race. On the other hand some of the most learned of the Germans 
have almost, without reservation, adopted this opinion. Von Humboldt, 
notwithstanding the indubitable proofs he has collected of intercourse 
between the inhabitants of the eastern and western continents, appears 
to regard the primitive population of America as a distinct and peculiar 
race, and Malte-Brun has plainly taken it for granted, that from the 
earliest times each part of the earth had indigenous inhabitants, into 
whose origin it is vain to make inquiries. Even the celebrated Nie- 
buhr, perplexed by his researches into tl\e early history and population 
of Italy,-)- is glad to escape from the difficulty of his subject, by adopting 
a similar opinion. Such an hypothesis is, however, not only at variance 
with the proofs drawn from the analogy of languages, by the most emi- 
nent philologists, amongst whom Sir William Jones stands conspicuous, 

• rricliard, p. 1. 

f Uoinische Geschicate von N. G. Nicubuhr, I. Ausgnb. Vorcdc, p. S8. PiicJiard, 
p. 2. 


but also with sacred history, which is too clear on this point to admit of 
a different construction. No doubt the comparison of languages will 
not, by itself, demonstrate the unity of the human race, or an original 
sameness of idiom in the whole species, but if properly applied, it will 
furnish vast [assistance in tracing the history and affinity of nations. 
Perhaps the best illustrations of the utilitj'^ and security of this mode of 
investigation are to be found in the history of the Goths who conquered 
the Roman empire, and in that of the Polynesian races. The Goths 
were supposed by most of the writers who lived shortly after the era of 
the Gothic invasion, to be Getae or Thracians ; an opinion which has 
been adopted by some modern historians : but from an ample specimen 
of their language in the version of Ulphilas, it has been ascertained, 
that in conformity with their own traditions, they were not Getae nor 
Thracians, but nearly allied in kindred to the northern tribes of the Ger- 
man family. In the same way, by a comparison of the languages of 
some of the tribes of the Polynesian races, living in the most remote 
islands of the Great Ocean at an immense distance from all other inha- 
bited regions, with those of the tribes inhabiting part of the Indian 
continent, and the isles of the Indian Archipelago, it has been clearly 
ascertained that they derived their origin from the same quarter, al- 
though the great remoteness of these islanders would appear* to furnish 
an argument to the Rationalist, that they commenced their existence in 
their present abodes.* 

With those who fearlessly reject the evidence of sacred history, the 
subject is not one which can be decided either way by authority ; and 
it is only by examining the evidence which seems to bear more immediate- 
ly upon the subject, that they can ever hope to arrive at a satisfactory 
conclusion. This viewed generally, is of two kinds, and comprehends, first, 
considerations resulting from a survey of the natural history of the 
globe, and facts connected with physical geography, and with the multi- 
plication and dispersion of species of both plants and animals ; and, se- 
condly, analytical investigations into the structure, affinities, and diver- 
sities of languages, in reference to the general question as to the history 
of our species. 

With regard to the arguments deduced from the former source, how- 
ever, although they may, at first view, appear to bear with the greatest 
weight upon this question, yet, from our inability duly to appreciate 
the effects of physical causes operating during a long course of ages, it is 
impossible with any degree of certainty to infer original distinction from 
the actual differences observable amongst mankind. But in the case of 
languages, especially those which, though they have ceased to be spoken, 
are still preserved, there is no such element of uncertainty ; and hence 
we are inclined to hold, that the only conclusions upon which we can 
safely rely respecting the aboriginal history of our species, are those 

* Pilchard, p. 5. 

XXIV pheliminary dissertation. 

deducible from an analysis of languages, conducted upon strictly phi- 
losophical principles. 

In tracing, however, the affinities of languages, many writers, in the 
eagerness of etymological research, have endeavoured to derive all lan- 
guages from one common origin ; but they have signally failed in the 
attempt, and for this reason, that the language of Noah, the primitive 
speech of mankind, was abolished before the dispersion of the human 
race, and this " one language and one speech," was miraculously sup- 
planted by various distinct languages. Of this fact, the sacred text 
seems to be decisive, and yet many commentators on the Bible, and 
other writers, maintain, that the language of our first parents was pre- 
served in the family of Shem. But independently of this irrefragable 
inference from sacred history, the non-existence of a primitive language 
from which all others are alleged to have been derived, seems suffi- 
ciently established from the fact stated by Sir William Jones, in his 
ninth Anniversary Discourse, that no affinity exists between Arabic, 
Sanscrit, and Tartaric, and that almost all existing languages bear more 
or less relation to the one or the other of these tongues. Supposing, 
however, that there are languages which have no such affinity, a 
conjecture far from being improbable, their distinct existence does not 
affect the argument, but only adds jto the number of original languages.* 

From the earliest periods of history, there have co-existed three dis- 
tinct families of language, and of which all other languages appear to be 
dialects. Some philologists have proposed to distinguish the different 
classes of idioms by the generic terms of Semitic^ Hamite, and Japetic ; 
a division which seems to be not only conformable to the structure of the 
languages included under these different denominations, but also to the 
apparently settled plan of separation and dispersion of Noah's posterity 
as recorded by Moses. Eichhorn observes, that the class of idioms 
termed by German philological writers Semitic languages, divide them- 
selves into the three following branches : — The Hebrew, or the dialect of 
Palestine and Phoenice, the Arabic, and the Aramean or northern Sem- 
itic, spread over Syria and Mesopotamia; and he maintains that these 
are as nearly related to each other as the Ionic, ^olic, and Doric dialects 
of the Greek.-j- The term Semitic, however, has been thought objection- 
able by some, on the ground that several of the nations who spoke the 
languages so denominated in common with the descendants of Shem, 
were of Hamite origin, as the Phoenicians or Canaanites.:j: Under the 
class of Hamite idioms, may be comprehended principally the dialects 
of the old Egyptian speech, the Coptic, Sahidic, and Bashmuric, in- 
cluding conjecturalbj^ until the mutual relations of these languages shall 
have been more fully investigated, several idioms spoken by races of 

• Kennedy, p. 6. 
+ Einleitung in .las Alio Tc&lament, von Jcli. G. Eichhom, B. I. p. 49. Diilt. 

I I'richanJ, Note on the Semitic Lauguagei. 


Africa, in whose history marks are to be found of connexion with the 
ancient subjects of the Pharaohs.* The Japetic languages, so named by 
Schlozer,f the learned editor of Nestor's Annals, from most of the na- 
tions by whom they are spoken having descended, as is generally be- 
lieved, from Japhet, are the same as those now classed by philologists 
under the title of Indo-European, as being more or less nearly related 
to the ancient language of India. 

Such an analysis of various languages as that here spoken of, will in 
every instance display one or other of four different relations subsisting 
between them. 1. In comparing some languages, little or no analogy can 
be discovered in their grammatical construction, but a resemblance more 
or less extensive may be traced in their vocabularies, or in the terms of 
particular objects, actions, and relations ; and if this correspondence is 
the result of commercial intercourse, conquest, or the introduction of a 
new system of religion, literature, and manners, it will extend only to 
such words as belong to the new stock of ideas thus introduced, and 
will leave unaffected the great proportion of terms which are expressive 
of mere simple ideas and of universal objects ; but if the correspondence 
traced in the vocabularies of any two languages is so extensive as to in- 
volve words of a simple and apparently primitive class, it indicates a 
much more ancient and intimate connexion. 2. Certain languages 
which have but few words in common, nevertheless display, when care- 
fully examined, a remarkable analogy in their principles and forms of 
grammatical construction ; as in the polysynthetic idioms of the 
American tribes, and the monosyllabic languages of the Chinese and 
Indo-Chinese nations. 3. A third relation discoverable between lan- 
guages, connected by both the circumstances already pointed out, con- 
sists in what may be properly called cognation ; an epithet which is 
applied to all those dialects which are connected by analogy in gram- 
matical forms, and by a considerable number of primitive words or roots 
common to all, or which at least possess such a resemblance as con- 
fessedly indicates a common origin. 4. The fourth and last relation, 
which is almost purely negative, exists between languages in which 
none of the connecting characters above described can be discerned, 
and there is discoverable neither analogy of grammatical structure, nor 
any correspondence in words, sufficient to indicate a particular affinity, 
circumstances which are held as conclusive that such languages are not 
of the same family, and that they belong to nations remote from each 
other in descent as well as differing in physical characteristics.:}: 

Upon these principles, which are now universally received as almost 

• Prichard, Note on the Semitic Languages. 

f A. L. Sclilozer, von den Chaldseem, Repertorium fur biblische imd morgenlcen- 
dische literatur. th. 8. 

X Prichard, p. 9, 10. Kennedy's Researches into the Origin and Affinity of the Lar. 
guages of Asia and Europe, p. 80. Edinburgh Review, No. CII. p. 560. 

I. d 


the only guides, apart from sacred history, in investigating the origin 
and descent of nations, the languages of the Finnish tribes, the Lap- 
landers, the Hungarians, the Ostiaks, and the Siberian Tsehudes, have 
been compared and analysed by Gigardmathi, Adelung, Gatterer, 
Klaproth, and others ; and the result, which appears to have been 
sufficiently established, is, that all these nations have sprung from 
one common original stock, the primitive seat of which was the 
country situated between the chain of Caucasus and the southern 
extremities of the Uralian mountains. But our chief object at pre- 
sent is with those tribes which have been latterly denominated Indo- 
European ; a term which includes all that class of nations, many of 
them inhabitants of Europe, whose dialects are more or less nearly re- 
lated to the ancient language of India. The idea of this classification, 
which is by far the most scientific that has yet been adopted, was suggest- 
ed by comparing the Sanscrit with the Greek and Latin languages, and 
observing the interesting and remarkable results evolved by that com- 
parison. These were, first, the detection of a very considerable number 
of primitive words, which were found to be common to all these lan- 
guages ; and, secondly, the discovery of a still more striking affinity 
which was proved to exist between their respective grammatical forms. 
In the case of the Greek and Sanscrit, this affinity amounts almost to 
complete identity ; in that of the Latin and Sanscrit, it is also, as might 
be supposed, exceedingly striking ; and these languages are all evidently 
branches of one common or parent stem. But the same process of 
analysis had led to other and not less curious or interesting results. It 
has been proved that the Teutonic, as well as the Sclavonic, including 
the Lettish or Lithuanian, stand in nearly the same relation to the 
ancient language of India, as the Greek and the Latin ; and several in- 
termediate languages, as the Zend and other Persian dialects, the Ar- 
menian and the Ossete, which is one of the various idioms spoken by 
the nations of the Caucasus, have been found by those who have examina- 
ed their structure and etymology to belong to the same stock.* 

In this way a close and intimate relation was proved by unquestion- 
able evidence to subsist between a considerable number of languages 
and dialects used or spoken by nations who are spread over a great 
part of Europe and of Asia, and to whom the term Indo-European has 
in consequence been applied. In fact, the more accurately these lan- 
guages have been examined, the more extensive and deep-rooted have 
their affinities appeared ; and it is only nrcessary to refer to Professor 
Jacob Grimm's masterly analysis of the Teutonic idioms, to enable the 
reader to verify the truth of this remark. The historical inference dedu- 
cible from these investigations, therefore, is, that the European nations 
who speak dialects referrible, on analysis, to this class or family of lan- 

• Klaproth, Asia Polyglotta, 


guages, are of the same race with the Indians and Asiatics, to whom a 
similar observation may be applied ; and that all are the descendants of 
some original nation or people, who spoke the primitive language, to 
which all the Indo-European forms of speech may be referred as a com 
mon source. 

In the application of the principles above stated to the languages 
of Africa and America, as compared with those of Asia and Europe, 
philologists have been sadly puzzled. In the old continent, they have 
sought in vain for a nation from whose speech the diversified idioms of 
America may with any degree of probability be derived ; but an exami- 
nation of the American languages themselves, has led to some interesting 
results. The native races of North America, by a classification of their 
dialects, which are very numerous, may be reduced to a few great divi- 
sions, several of which extend as radii issuing from a common centre in 
the north-western part of the continent which is divided from Asia by 
Behring's Straits. A chain of nations whose languages, particularly 
tliose of the Ugalyachmatzi, and Koluschians, bear a curious analogy to 
that of the Aztecs, and Tlaxcallans, has been discovered extending 
from New Mexico, to Mount St Elias, in the neighbourhood of the 
Esquimaux Tschugazzi. The Karalit or Esquimaux, another series of 
nations connected by affinities of dialect, has been traced from the set- 
tlements of the Tschuktzschi in Asia, along the polar zone to Acadia 
and Greenland. In a similar manner, light has been thrown on the his- 
tory of the Lenni, Lenape, and the great kindred family of Algonquin 
nations, on that of the Iroquois, and likewise of the Florida and other 
races of North America, by comparing their national traditions with 
the indications discovered in their dialects. It is a remarkable circum- 
stance, that although there are, according to Lopez — a missionary well 
versed in the languages of South and North America — about fifteen hun- 
dred idioms in America, there is a singular congruity in the structure 
between all the American languages, from the northern to the southern 
extremity of that vast continent. These facts have been fully developed 
by the researches of Barlow, Hewas, Humboldt, Heckewelder, Dupon 
ceau, and others.* 

But a more immediate subject of inquiry is, whether the Celtic di» 
lects belong to the class or family of languages spoken by the Indo- 
European nations ; and the question is the more interesting as it bears 
directly on the origin of the nations of western Europe, including the 
British islands, as well as on the more extensive one relating to the phy- 
sical history of mankind. Many persons have supposed the Celts to be 
of Oriental origin, but, for the most part, upon grounds which are either 
altogether fanciful, or at least insufficient to warrant such a conclu- 
sion. The compilers of the Universal History^ for instance, gravely 
tell us, that the Celts were descended from Gomer, the eldest son of 

* Prichard, p, 5, 6, 7. 


Japhet, the son of Noah ; that Gomer settled in the province of Phry- 
gia in Asia Minor, whilst his sons, Ashkenaz and Togarmah, occupied 
Armenia, and Rephath took possession of Cappadocia ; that when they 
found it necessary to spread themselves wider, they moved regularly in 
columns, without disturbing or interfering with their neighbours ; that 
the descendants of Gomer, or the Celtce, took the left hand, and gra- 
dually spread themselves westward to Poland, Hungary, Germany, 
France, and Spain ; and that the descendants of Magog, the brother of 
Gomer, moved to the eastward, peopling Tartary, and spreading them- 
selves as far as India and China. Speculative fancies like these, how- 
ever, are too absurd and extravagant to be even amusing. The real 
question is, whether the same arguments which prove most of the other 
nations of the world to be of eastern origin and descent, may not also 
be applied to that great stock, the branches of which, anterior to the 
commencement of history, had overspread Gaul and Britain, and occu- 
pied a considerable part of Spain. 

But here it is proper to observe, that writers on the history of lan- 
guages and the antiquity of nations, are divided in opinion with respect 
to this question. Adelung and Murray have considered the Celts as a 
branch of the Indo-European stock ; but the latter has left that part of 
his work which relates to the Celtic dialects in a most incomplete state ; 
and Adelung has committed the error of supposing the Welsh or Cymb- 
ric to be derived from the language of the Belgae, and not from that of 
the Celts, who inhabited the central parts of Gaul and Britain. From 
want of information respecting the Celtic dialects, many of the conti- 
nental writers, amongst whom may be mentioned Frederick Schlegel and 
Malte-Brun, have been led to believe the Celtic to be a language of a 
class wholly unconnected with the other idioms of Europe ; and in Bri- 
tain the same opinion has, from the same cause, been expressed by 
several well known authors. Mr Pinkerton, for instance, has declared, 
in his usual dogmatical manner, that the Celtae were a people entirely 
distinct from the rest of mankind ; and that their language, the real 
Celtic, is as remote from the Greek as the Hottentot is from tlie Lapponic. 
And Colonel Kennedy, at the conclusion of the chapter in which he 
successfully refutes some of the opinions of Pelloutier and Bullet, re- 
specting the Celtae and their language, concludes, that " the Celtic, 
when divested of all words which have been introduced into it by con- 
quest and religion, is a perfectly original language ;" and that " this 
originality incontrovertibly proves that neither Greek, Latin, or the 
Toutonic dialects, nor Arabic, Persian, or Sanskrit, were derived from 
the Celtic, since these languages have not any affinity whatever with 
that (ongue."* Davis, however, in tiie preface to his dictionary, has 
said, " Ausim affirmare linguam Britannicam (Cclticam), turn vocibus» 
turn plirasibus ct orationis contextu, tam litcrarum pronunciaticuej 

» Kuin Olio's. lu;si;ai(li(s, ji. 85. riirh.ilil, pi*. ^^0— 22. 


manifestum cum orientialibus habere congruentiam et affinitatem ;" and a 
result of a more accurate and minute analysis has been to confirm this 
opinion in the most complete manner possible. 

The connexion of the Sclavonian, German, and Pelasgian races with 
the ancient Asiatic nations, may be establisiied by historical proof. 
But the language of these races and the Celtic, although differing from 
each other, and constituting the four principal classes of dialects which 
prevail in Europe, are nevertheless so far allied in their radical ele- 
ments, that they may with certainty be considered as branches of the 
same original stock. Remarkable, indeed, is the resemblance observ- 
able in the general structure of speech, and in those parts of the voca- 
bulary'- which must be supposed to be the most ancient, as, for instance, 
in words descriptive of common objects and feelings, for which expres- 
sive terms existed in the primitive ages of society. In fact, the rela- 
tion between the languages above mentioned and the Celtic is such as 
not merely to establish the affinity of the respective nations, but like- 
wise to throw light upon the structure of the Indo-European lan- 
guages in general ; and particularly to illustrate some points which 
had been previously involved in obscurity. This is clearly demonstrat- 
ed by Dr Prichard's ample and satisfactory analysis, which embraces 
almost every thing that can possibly enter into an inquiry of this 

In examining that permutation of letters in composition and construc- 
tion which is common to many of the Indo-European languages, 
according to rules founded originally on euphony or on the facility 
of utterance, a circumstance from which has arisen the great capability 
which these languages possess, of forming compound words, Dr Prichard 
adduces the substitution of consonants of particular orders for their cog- 
nates in the composition or formation of Greek compound words as an 
example of the peculiarity noticed. But the mutation of consonants in 
Greek, in Latin, and in the German dialects, is not general; it is con- 
fined to words brought together under very peculiar circumstances, as 
chiefly when they enter into the formation of compound terms, and it 
is scarcely observed in words which still remain distinct, and are merely 
constituent parts of sentences. To account for the immutability of 
simple terms, the learned author supposes that either the attention to 
euphony and the facility of utterance has not extended so far, or that 
the purpose was attained by a choice of collocation, the words them- 
selves remaining unaltered. In the Sanscrit language, however, words 
merely in sequence influence each other in the change of terminations, 
and sometimes of initial letters, on the principle before alluded to. 
Thus, as Dr Prichard notices, instead of atishtat mamijah, stabat homo, 
the man stood, the words are written atishtun manvjah, the final t of the 
verb atishtatf stabat, being altered into «, on account of the liquid con- 
sonant with which the next word begins. The Sanscrit grammarians 
term this change in distinct Mords /Sand/ii, conjunction ; and the rules, 


according to which compound words are found, are called Samdsay 
signifying coalition. The same principles which govern the permuta- 
tion of letters in the Sanscrit are clearly discoverable in the Celtic 
dialects, particularly in the Welsh and in the Gaelic. 

Proo& of the common origin, in the vocabulary of the Celtic and 
other Indo-European nations, are exhibited by this eminent philologist, 
jirst, in the names of persons and relations ; secondly^ in the principal 
elements of nature, and of the visible objects of the universe ; thirdly y 
in names of animals ; fourthly^ in verbal roots found in the Celtic and 
other Indo-European languages, oxi^ fifthly^ in adjectives, pronouns, 
and particles. He then proceeds to investigate the proofs of a common 
origin derived from the grammatical structure of the Celtic, as compared 
with that of other Indo-European languages, particularly the Sanscrit, the 
Greek, the Latin, the Teutonic, and Sclavonian dialects, and the Persian 
language; and in all of these he shows that a striking resemblance is dis- 
coverable in the personal inflections of verbs, as well as in the personal 
pronouns, and in the inflections of verbs through the different moods 
and tenses ; and he concludes with a further illustration of the princi- 
ples which he had previously established by an analysis of the verb sub- 
stantive, and the attributive verbs in the Celtic dialects, and in other 
Indo-European forms of speech, the result of which is to evolve coinci- 
dences precisely analogous to those already exemplified with the utmost 
accuracy of detail. 

What, then, is the legitimate inference to be deduced from the obvious, 
striking, and, we may add, radical analogies, proved to exist between 
the Celtic dialects and the idioms which are generally allowed to be of 
cognate origin with the Sanscrit, the Greek, and the Latin languages ? 
The marks of connexion are manifestly too decided and extensive, and 
enter too deeply into the structure and principles of these languages, to 
be the result of accident or casual intercourse ; and being thus inter- 
woven with the intimate texture of the languages compared, seem inca- 
pable of explanation upon any principle, except that which has been 
admitted with respect to the other great families of languages belonging 
to the ancient population of Europe, namely, that the whole Celtic race 
is of oriental origin, and a kindred tribe with the nations who settled 
on the banks of the Indus, and on the shores of the Mediterranean and 
the Baltic. It is probable, indeed, that several tribes emigrated from 
their original seat at different periods, and at different stages of advance- 
ment, in respect to civilization ; and hence, we find their idioms in dif- 
ferent stages and degrees of refinement : but the proofs of a common 
origin, derived from an accurate examination and analysis of the inti- 
mate structure and component materials of these languages, are never- 
theless such as, in our judgment, must command general assent; more 
especially, considering that the general inference thus deduced receives 
strong confirmaticafrom those purely physical investigations, to which 
we have already alluded. If, indeed, there be any truth in those prin- 


ciples of classification which naturalists have adopted, the Mongol and 
the Chinese, the Hindu and the Tartar, are not more certainly oriental 
than the native Celt, whose physical conformation indeed exhibits only 
a slight modification of that which is peculiar to the great race whence 
he is descended ; whilst his superstitions, manners, customs, and ob- 
servances, as well as language, are all decidedly marked with traces and 
indications of an eastern origin. 

The early history of the Celts, like that of the other nations of an- 
tiquity, is involved in obscurity. They were known to the ancient 
Greeks only by name, and these Greeks were so uncritical as to in- 
clude amongst the Celts, all the people who lived between the Oder and 
the Tagus, and consequently to consider them all as belonging to one 
race. Even the Romans, who did not fail to avail themselves of the 
better opportunity which they had of distinguishing these people from 
one another, according to their customs, origin, and language, too often, 
either through ignorance or indifference, preserved erroneous general 
names, and thus included the Iberians, Germans, Scythians, and Thra- 
cians, among the Celts. These erroneous opinions have been adopted by 
some modern philologists and historians, who have gone so far as to as- 
sert that the people and languages of Europe have been derived from 
the Celts.* By confounding together in a most ingenious manner the 
history of every ancient people, the misjudging supporters of the Celtic 
hypothesis have given an air of plausibility to their conjectures ; but 
there is no evidence that either the Germans or Thracians were Celts.f 
It must be admitted, however, that the hypothesis respecting the Iber- 
ians appears not to be altogether without foundation. 

It is observed by Colonel Kennedy in his valuable Researches, that 
in the absence of the authority of any ancient writer in support of the 
assertion, that the Scythians, and even the Persians, Thracians, Phry- 
gians, and others, were Celts, it may seem that the question of the origin 
of these people might be at once decided by the irrefutable testimony of 
language ; but unfortunately, as he observes, it is admitted by both the 
supporters of the Celtic hypothesis and its opponents, " that the remains 
of the Celtic tongue, which are still preserved, abound in Greek, Latin, 
and Teutonic words ; and it, therefore, becomes indispensable to deter- 
mine, in the first place, whether these words are original or exotic. For 
it must be obvious, that if the Celts never inhabited the countries which 
were originally or subsequently occupied by the Greek, Latin, and 
Teutonic people, their languages could not possibly have become af- 
fected by the Celtic, unless they had either maintained a frequent 
friendly intercourse with the Celts, or had been conquered by them; 
but it appears fully from the whole course of ancient tradition and his- 
tory, that no such intercourse or conquest ever took place ; and, conse- 
quently, if the Greek, Latin, Teutonic, and Celtic people, were not 

• Adelung's Mithridates, vol. ii. p. 31. t Kennedy, p. 67. 


originally one and the same race of men, it must necessarily follow that 
the Celts have been subdued by the Romans and Germans, as history 
attests it was from them that the Celts have received the foreign words 
with which their language abounds, and not the Romans and Germans, 
who received these words from the Celts.'' * This, however, is a very 
doubtful theory, as Cisalpine Gaul, or the great plain of northern Italy, 
was inhabited at the remotest period of history by Celts, who are known 
to have been partly incorporated with the other early inhabitants of 

The local situations in which the Celts are found at the dawn of his- 
tory prove that they were the aborigines of the northern and western 
parts of Europe. Of their migrations from the east, no memorials nor 
traditions have been preserved ; but as they were distinct from the Thra- 
cians, who entered Europe by the Bosphorus and Hellespont, it is pro- 
bable they penetrated through the defiles of the Caucasus, and turning 
to the left, advanced to the westward by the great valley of the 
Danube. In the time of Herodotus their possessions extended from 
the Upper Danube to the pillars of Hercules ; but he adds that the 
Cynesii or Cynetas, on whom they bordered, were the most remote na- 
tion in Europe toward the west, that is, of Spain, f These Cynetaj or 
Cynesii are probably the same as the Iberi, the ancient inhabitants of 
Spain, who were perhaps of Celtic origin. 

The chief seat of the Celts was in Transalpine Gaul, where, although 
divided into a number of tribes, they maintained their independence 
against their powerful neighbours the Teutones or Germans ; but they 
were at last obliged to submit to the well-disciplined legions of Csesar. 
From the account given by that great warrior of the population of 
Gaul, an inference has been drawn that it was occupied in his time by 
three distinct races, and that the Celts were then limited to that part of 
Gaul lying between the Garonne, the Marne, and the Seine. But ad- 
mitting that the Aquitani of Caesar were distinct from the Celtae, and either 
a separate race by themselves or a branch of the Iberi of Spain, there is 
nothing to be found in Cassar to warrant the conclusion that the Belgae 
were not Celts, unless the vain boast of the Rhemi that the greater 
part of the Belgae were descended from the Germans, is to be held as 
paramount to the authority of Tacitus and Strabo. The latter informs 
us that scarcely any difference existed between the Belgae and the Celtae, 
properly so called. He says, indeed, that a kind of diversity of lan- 
guage existed amongst them ; but this difference is easily accounted for 
bj' the proximity of the Belgae to the Germans, and the intermixture of 
the two races on the left bank of the Rhine. The only difference, then, 
between the Belgic and Celtic Gauls was, that they spoke different 
dialects of the same language. 

With regard to the original inhabitants of South Britain, although every 

* Ilesearches, p. CS. f Lib. ii. cap. 33; lib. iv. cap. 49. 


circumstance which has reached us respecting them denotes their Celtic 
origin, their connexion with or descent from the Celtic inhabitants of 
Gaul rests upon probabilities which, however, amount almost to a cer- 
tainty. The conclusion, that the aboriginal Britons, who possessed the 
interior and western parts of the island in the time of Caesar, were 
nearly allied to the Celtic inhabitants of Gaul, seems, as Dr Prichard 
observes, to result, 1. From a comparison of the languages of these na- 
tions. He considers the Welsh and Cornish dialects, chiefly the for- 
mer, as a relic and specimen of the idiom spoken by the ancient 
Britons ; and that the speech of Gallia Celtica was a cognate dialect of 
that idiom is rendered extremely probable from the circumstance, that 
the language spoken by the inhabitants of Bretagne or Armorica, is 
very nearly allied to the Welsh. 2. From the Druidical institutions 
being common to the Celtic Gauls and the aboriginal Britons. 3. From 
the abundance of those rude erections commonly termed Druidical cir- 
cles, cromlechs, and dolmins, both in Armorica and in Wales, as well as 
in other countries belonging to the early Britons. 

In the time of Julius Caesar, to whom we are indebted for our first 
acquaintance with the history of Britain, it was possessed by upwards of 
forty tribes, while the population of Gaul comprised about sixty, each 
of which endeavoured to maintain its own independence, and a state of 
isolated existence incompatible with the general security. In their do- 
mestic wars many of them had lost their independence, but others had 
raised themselves to great power and influence. Of ten nations, by 
which Britain, to the south of the Severn and the Thames, was possess- 
ed, the most considerable were the Cantii, the Belgae, and the Dum- 
nonii. The Trinobantes, whose capital was London, lay between the 
Thames and the Stour, and from the Severn to the territories of the 
Trinobantes, along the left bank of the Thames, were two confederate 
tribes, the Dobuni and Cassii, above whom were the Carnabii and some 
minor tribes. Beyond the Trinobantes, and between the Stour and the 
Humber, lay the Iceni ; and between the Humber and the Tyne 
stretched the Brigantes, the most powerful of all the British nations, to 
whom the Voluntii and Sistuntii, two nations on the western coast, were 
tributary. The Silures, almost equally powerful, who had extended 
themselves from the banks of the Wye to the Dee and the ocean, pOvS- 
sessed Cornwall and South Wales. The five tribes known by the ge- 
neral name of Maeatae, occupied the country between the Tyne and the 
Friths of Forth and Clyde, which formed the Roman province of Va- 
lentia ; and beyond them were the sixteen tribes which make so conspi- 
cuous a figure in the Roman annals. 

As to the Belgic Britons, alluded to by Caesar, who possessed the 
southern parts of Britain, they must have emigrated from Belgic 
Gaul at a time posterior to the arrival of the other Celtic colonies, 
whom they appear to have compelled to retire from the maritime dis- 

I. e 


tricts into the interior and western parts of the island. Such is the 
account given by Caesar, whose knowledge of the inhabitants of Britain 
appears to have been limited to those of Belgic descent. 

It seems to be unquestionably established, that the Belgic Britons 
were not a German people of Teutonic extraction, as some writers have 
supposed, but a Celtic tribe from Belgic Gaul, which, for the sake of war 
or plunder, passed over from Belgium into Britain at a very early pe- 
riod and fixed themselves in the maritime districts. Their houses are 
described by Caesar as almost similar to those of the Gauls, and the in- 
habitants of Cantium (Kent) are stated by Caesar as the most civilized, 
and differing very little from the Gauls in manners.* About one hun- 
dred and fifty years thereafter, Tacitus, who had better opportunities 
of observing and comparing the Gauls and Belgic Britons, noticed a 
resemblance between them. " Those (of the Britons) nearest Gaul 
resemble the Gauls ; either from the remaining strength of the ori- 
ginal stock, or because similarity of climate induces similar habits of 
body. But from a general conclusion it is probable that the Gauls 
occupied the adjacent country. Their sacred rites and supersti- 
tious persuasions are apparent, and the language is not much diffe- 
rent."f Had these Belgic Britons resembled the Germans, such a 
close observer as Tacitus would not have overlooked the circumstance. 
But if any doubt could otherwise exist respecting the Celtic origin of 
the British Belgee, that doubt would be removed by the prevalence of 
Celtic terms in their idiom, as far as known, to the entire exclusion of 
Teutonic words. 

Although there were several tribes of Belgic origin in Britain, such 
as the Atrebatii, supposed to be a branch of the Atrebates of Belgic 
Gaul, the Durotriges or Morini of Richard of Cirencester, the Reg- 
ni supposed to be synonymous with the Rhemi of Richard, and 
the Cantii, there was a tribe denominated Belgae, as we have ob- 
served, in Hampshire and Wiltshire, whose capital was Venta Bel- 
garum, or Winchester. Mr Pinkerton maintains, but without the 
shadow of proof, that the ancestors of these Belgic colonists were 
Goths who migrated into Britain about three hundred years before 
Christ. " To the Celtic population of England succeeded the Go- 
thic. The Scythians or Goths advancing from Asia, drove the 
Cimbri or Northern Celts before them ; and at a period long pre- 
ceding the Christian era, had seized on that part of Gaul which is 
nearest to Great Britain, where they acquired the provincial denomina- 
tion of Belgae. (Dissertation on the Goths.) Their passage to Eng- 
land followed of course ; and when Caesar first explored this island, he 
informs us that the primitive inhabitants were driven into the interior 
parts, whilst the regions on the south-east were peopled with Belgic co- 

, • Cesar's Comm. f Agricola, cap. ii. 



lonies. (Lib. V. c. 10.) Those Belgse may be justly regarded as the 
chief ancestors of the Engb'sh nation, for the Saxons, Angles, and other 
northern invaders, though of distinguished courage, were inconsidera- 
ble in numbers. Till a recent period, antiquaries had imagined that 
the BelgaB used the Celtic language, and had execrated the cruelties of 
the Saxons for an extirpation which never happened. But, as it appears 
that two-thirds of England were possessed by the Belgic Goths for six 
or seven centuries before the arrival of the Saxons, it is no wonder 
that no Celtic words are to be found in the English language, which 
bears more affinity to the Frisic and Dutch than to the Jutlandic or 
Danish."* He computes the Belgic population of Britain at three or 
four millions, and affirms, that at the time of the Saxon invasion these 
Belgae spoke the German language I Yet Nennius, who wrote his 
chronicle in the year eight hundred and thirty-two, says expressly, 
that at " the feast given by Hengist to Vortigern, the latter brought 
his interpreter with him, for no Briton understood the Saxon tongue 
except that interpreter "\ 

If it could be shown that the Belgae of Gaul were Germans of Gothic 
origin, the position maintained by Mr Pinkerton and other writers that 
the British Belgas were of the same descent, might be allowed, as it is 
an unquestionable fact that the Belgae whom Caesar found in Britain, 
were from the opposite coast of Belgic Gaul ; but with the exception of 
two passages in Caesar of doubtful import, there are no historical data 
on which to found such an hypothesis. Bishop Percy, however, ob- 
serves, " Caesar, whose judgment and penetration will be disputed by 
none but a person blinded by hypothesis, and whose long residence in 
Gaul gave him better means of being informed than almost any of his 
countrymen — Caesar expressly assures us, that the Celts, or common 
inhabitants of Gaul, differed in language, customs, and laws, from the 
Belgae on the one hand, who were chiefly a Teutonic people, and from 
the inhabitants of Aquitaine on the other, who, from their vicinity to 
Spain, were probably of Iberian race. Caesar positively affirms, that 
the nations of Gaul diifered from those of Germany in their manners, 
and in many particulars, which he has enumerated at length ; and this 
assertion is not thrown out at random, like the passages brought by 
Cluverius against it, but is coolly and cautiously made when he is 
going to draw the characters of both nations in an exact and well-finish- 
ed portrait, which shows him to have studied the genius and manners 
of both people with great attention, and to have been completely master 
of his subject. :|;" 

But unfortunately for the Bishop's own hypothesis, Caesar has, in the 
highly finished sketches which he has drawn in his sixth book, of the 
customs and manners of the Gauls and Germans, shown that the people 

« Pinkerton's Geography, vol. i. p. 18, 19. 
f Hist. Britan. c. 6. X Preface to Northern Antiquities, p. xl. 


of all Gaul, though some slight shades of difference existed among 
themselves, were, nevertheless, in language, customs, religion, and laws,* 
ioto ccelo different from the Germans.* Mr Pinkerton admits, that " in 
describing the customs of Gaul, he (Csesar) puts all as the same ;" and 
with reference to the opening sentence in his first book, in which Caesar 
alludes to a difference in language, customs, and laws, which existed 
among the three great branches of the Gallic population, he asks, " Has 
he (Caesar) not herein palpably contradicted himself? Or is the fact 
this, that his omnis Gallia of the sixth book is quite different from his 
omnis Gallic of the first ; the former applying solely to the Celtae, who 
were peculiarly called Galli, in his time, as Caesar says ?"f Mr Pin- 
kerton immediately solves this apparent inconsistency by telling us 
that the omnis Gallia of the sixth book is Gallia Proper or Celtic Gaul, 
because, as he supposes, the BelgiE, like the Germans, had, " of course,'* 
no Druids either in Gaul or Britain. 

Had the Germano-Belgic hypothesis rested simply on the single 
sentence alluded to, it would scarcely have required refutation ; but those 
who maintain it, further support their opinion by a passage in the 
fourth book of the Commentaries, where it is stated that most of the 
Belgaewere of German origin. The statement, however, is not Caesar's, 
but that of the ambassadors of the Rhemi, a Belgic tribe bordering on 
Celtic Gaul, who, when Csesar was preparing to attack the confederated 
Belga&, offered to submit themselves to the Romans. The following is 
a close translation of the passage on which so much stress has beei> 
laid : — " Caesar having inquired the number and power of their (the 
Belgic) states, and how many troops they could bring into the field, 
was thus answered : The greater part of the Belgce are descended from 
the Germans, who, having in former times crossed the Rhine, expelled 
tlie Gauls, settled in these parts on account of the fertility of the soil, 
and were the only people in the memory of our forefathers who ex- 
pelled the Teutones and the Cimbri from their territories after they had 
harassed all Gaul. Hence they had gained great authority, and as- 
sumed great courage in military affairs. In consequence, they said, of 
our connexion and affinity, we are well acquainted with the numbers 
each state has engaged to bring into the field, in the general assembly 
of the Belgae. The Bellovaci are the most conspicuous among them 
for rank, authority, and number, and tliey alone can muster one hun- 

* "In 1)0 one instance has Ciesar himself called the iJelgcc Germans; but plainly dis- 
tinguishes them from the four tribes who are particularly designated as Germans. Had 
the Belgce been wholly German, we should have found infallible marks in his descrip- 
tion that they were so, and he would not have made the distinction which he constantly 
docs, of the Germans as a differeirt people. We submit the question to any impartial 
person, who will read the account of Ctesar's wars with the Belgae, whether tlie smallest 
traces can be discovered that they were all Germans ; or, on the contrary, whether they 
were not, for the most part, evidently and palpably Celts." — Vindication of the Ceits, 
p. S7. 

f Enquiry, vol. i. p. 24. 


dred thousand combatants, but have promised on the present occasion 
sixty thousand choice warriors, and claim the direction of the war. 
Tlie Suessones are their neighbours, and possess a large and fertile 
territory. They had a king in our country called Divitiacus, who was 
the most powerful prince in Gaul, and governed a great part of these 
regions, as well as of Britain. Their present king is Galba, to whom, 
on account of his prudence and justice, the conduct of the war is as- 
signed by general consent. They have twelve cities, and promised 
forty thousand combatants ; the Attrebates fifteen thousand, the Am- 
biani ten thousand, the Morini twenty-five thousand, the Velocassi and 
Veromandici the same number, the Adualici ten thousand ; the Con- 
drusi, Eburones, Coeraesi, Paemani, who are all called Germans, are 
estimated at forty thousand."* 

The division of the tribes above enumerated into Belgae and Germans, 
indicates such a marked distinction between the Belgse, properly so called, 
and the Belgic Germans, as can only be accounted for on the supposition 
that the Belgae considered themselves as a distinct people from those Ger- 
man tribes which had recently crossed the Rhine and settled in their 
territories. The certain and well-known tradition in the time of Caesar, 
that their ancestors originallj'^ came from the country called Germany, 
may have induced the remoter Belgic tribes bordering upon the Rhine, 
to claim an affinity with the Teutonic race ; but there may have been 
other reasons which might cause them to prefer a German to a Celtic 
extraction. A warlike nation like the Belgae, who had expelled the 
Teutones and the Cimbri, and resisted the encroachments of the Ro- 
man power, could not, it is obvious, brook the idea of being considered 
as of the same race with the effeminate people of Celtic Gaul, who had 
submitted themselves to the Roman yoke ; and hence we may infer 
that many of the Belgic tribes that affected a German origin, were in- 
fluenced, by some such feeling, to disown to strangers their Celtic ex- 
traction. But we are not left here to conjecture, for Tacitus informs us 
that the Treviri and Nervii, the first of whom were confessedly Celtae, 
were ambitious of being thought of German origin. f Besides the 
four German tribes enumerated by Caesar, there were, according to 
Tacitus, other four of German origin, namely, the Vangiones, Triboci, 
Nemetes, and Ubii ; but all these formed but a small part of the Belgic 

From the way in which Tacitus alludes to the language of the Gauls, 
he evidently did not consider the differences, which he must have ob- 
served, as partaking of any other distinction than a mere difference in 
dialect. It is very probable that his observations are limited to the 
speech of the people of Belgic and Celtic Gaul, for a radical difference 

* Com. Lib. II. c. 4. 

t " Treveri et Nervii circa afFeclionem Germaiiic£E origiiiis ultro ambitiosi sunt, tan- 
quam per hanc gloriam sanguinis a similitudine et inertia Gallorum separantur."~Dn 
Mo rib. Germ. c. 28. 


appears to have existed between their language and that of the Aqui- 
tani. " Some," says Strabo, " divide the inhabitants of Gaul into 
three parts, terming them Aquitani, Belgae, and Celtae . . . the Aqui- 
tani are altogether different from the others, not only in language, but 
also in their persons, and bear a greater resemblance to the Iberi than 
to the Gauls ; but the remainder — the Belgae and Celtae — have the per- 
sonal characters peculiar to the Gauls, though they are not all of one 
speech, some of them differing a little from the others in their language^ 
and there are some slight diversities in their modes of government and 
manners."* The same writer, after giving a long account of the 
Belgae, at the end of his description of the divisions of Gaul made by 
Augustus, thus closes his observations : — " Among almost all these 
people (the Belgae) there are three ranks of men, called Bards, Ovates,f 
and Druids, who are held in high veneration. The Bards are singers 
of hymns, and poets ; the Ovates are performers of the sacred rites, 
and professors of natural philosophy ; but the Druids, besides a know- 
ledge in natural philosophy, investigate the nature of disorders." Next 
to language no better criterion could have been fixed upon for estab- 
lishing the Celtic origin of the people of Belgic Gaul, than this refer- 
ence to their religious orders, of which not a trace existed even among 
those Germans who had settled in the Belgic territories. 

It seems now to be fully established that the Fir-bholg of Ireland 
were of Belgic origin, but whether this race found its way into Ireland 
directly from the shores of Belgium, or through Britain, is a question 
which cannot be determined. The period of their emigration is lost in 
the mists of antiquity, but all accounts concur that they must have ar- 
rived in Ireland at an era long posterior to the settlement of the original 
population of that island. 

The little difference noticed by Caesar between the language of the 
Belgae and Celtae of Gaul, naturally suggests the inquiry, to which of the 
two principal Celtic dialects the idiom of Belgic Gaul is to be referred ? 
Was it a branch of the Cambro-Celtic, as the Armoric, the Welsh, and 
the Cornish, have been termed ? Or of the other branch termed the Erse, 
including the language of the Irish and Scottish Gael, and the Manks? 
This is a question which can never be satisfactorily solved ; but it is 
not improbable, that as several names of persons and places in parts of 
South Britain, which were possessed by the Belgae, are Erse, accord- 
ing to their orthography, the language spoken by them was a dialect 
of the Gaelic. In support o€ this opinion, reference has been made 
to the name of the British pendragon or generalissimo, who invited 
Hengist and his Saxons into England, which is written Gwrtheyrn by 

• Lib. iv. p. 176. 
f " Strabo plainly appears to have been better acquainted than Csesar with the three 
classes of the Bardio system. It is likewise remarkable, tliat his word Ouxtuc is the 
same as the name Ovyddion, by which the Welsh still distinguish a class of the Banis." 
Findicalion of the Cdts, note on the above jiassage from Livy, p. <)2. 


the Welsh historians, but which in Irish is Feartigearn, and pronounced 
neariy as Vortigern. Vortiraer and Catigern, the names of his sons, 
it is observed, are also Erse. Another fact brought forward in support 
of this conjecture is, that Ennis Vliocht, an Irish name, is given to the 
isle of Shepey in some Welsh manuscripts. It must be confessed, 
however, that the Gwydhil may have given this name to that island 
before their expulsion by the Cumri, though it is difficult to account 
for the Irish mode of orthography appearing in a Welsh manu- 
script for any other reason than that here supposed. 

It is a remarkable fact in the history of the aborigines of Bri- 
tain and Ireland, that the original names of these islands are still 
retained by the Gael of Scotland and Ireland. The words Albin and 
Jerna were used by Aristotle, upwards of two thousand years ago, as 
the respective appellations of both islands. These terms bear as close 
an approximation as the peculiar structure of the Greek language 
would admit of to the Albinn of the Scottish Gael, a name now con- 
fined by them to Scotland, and to the Erin of the Irish Celts. Hence, 
in distinguishing themselves from the Gael of Ireland, the Scottish 
Celts denominate themselves Gael Albinn or Albinnich, while they call 
those of Ireland Gael Eirinnich, The latter is the term which the 
Irish Gael also apply to themselves. It was not until the time of Caesar 
that the term Britannia superseded the original appellation of Albion or 

The above mentioned fact, and the corollaries resulting from it, are 
considered by a modern writer as faithful guides " to direct us in mark- 
ing the progress of the original population of the Britannic islands. 
It being ascertained that the ancient name of the island of Great Bri- 
tain was Albinn, if Gaelic was the language of the first inhabitants, it 
is unquestionable that they would call themselves, in reference to their 
country, Albinnich ; and this appellation they would carry along with 
them as they directed their course in all parts of the island of Great 
Britain. There is reason to believe, that for a long succession of ages, 
emigrations from Gaul into Britain were frequent. And it appears, 
that in Caesar's days one of the Gallic princes bore sway in some of the 
southern parts of Britain. Whether the descendants of the first emi- 
grants from Gaul extended their progress over the island in consequence 
of an increased population, or were propelled northward by the warlike 
aggression of their more southern neighbours, still, while the country 
of their residence was the island of Albinn, they would continue to de- 
nominate themselves Albinnich ; a denomination which the unmixed 
descendants of the most ancient Gallic stock have ever retained as 
marking their country ; and they know no other name for Scotsmen 
than Albinnich, nor any other name for the kingdom of Scotland than 
Albinn at this day."* 

• Grant's Thoughts on the Origin and Descent of the Gael, p. 261, 20*2, 


With respect to the etymology of the name Albinn or Albion, it is to 
be observed, in the first place, that it is compounded of two syllables, 
the last of which, z«w, signifies in Celtic a large island. Thus far the 
etymology is clear, but the meaning of the adjective part. Alb, is not so 
apparent. Dr John Macpherson thinks it folly to search for a He- 
brew or Phoenician etymon of Albion, and he considers the prefix allf 
as denoting a high country, the word being, in his opinion, synonymous 
with the Celtic vocable aJp or alba, which signifies high, " Of the 
Alpes Grajae, Alpes Paeninaa or Penninae, and the Alpes Bastarnicse, 
every man of letters has read. In the ancient language of Scotland, 
alp signifies invariably an eminence. The Albani, near the Caspian 
Sea, the Albani of Macedon, the Albani of Italy, and the Albanicli 
of Britain, had all the same right to a name founded on the same 
characteristical reason, the height or roughness of their respective 
countries. The same thing may be said of the Gaulish Albici, near 

Deriving alb from the Latin word albus, the appellation of Albinn 
would denote an island distinguished by some peculiarity either in 
the whiteness of its appearance or in the productions of its soil, 
and hence Pliny derives the etymon of Albion from its white rocks 
washed by the sea, or from the abundance of white roses which 
the island produced. His words are, " Albion insula sic dicta ab albis 
rupibus, quas mare alluit, vel ob rosas albas quibus abundat."f But 
although the whitish appearance of the English cliffs, as seen from the 
channel and the opposite coast of Gaul, certainly appears to support 
the supposition of Pliny ; yet it is evidently contrary to philological 
analogy to seek for the etymon of Albion in the Latin. Amongst the 
various opinions given on this subject, that of Dr Macpherson seems to 
be the most rational. 

. Though the Scottish Gael still call the kingdom of Scotland by the 
generic term Albinn, they nevertheless make a distinction between that 
part of Scotland in which English is spoken, and that possessed by 
themselves. From the Gaelic word Gaoll, which means a stranger, the 
Gael denominate the Lowlands, or that part of Scotland where their 
language is not spoken, Gaolldoch, whilst they term their own country 
Gaeldoch, After the Danes had subdued the Hebrides, these islands 
were called by the Highlanders Innsegaoll, or the islands possessed 
by strangers, a name also by which they distinguish the islands of 
Orkney and Shetland, and for the same reason they call Caithness 
Gaollthao, the quarter of strangers, on account of its having been 
colonized by the Anglo-Saxons. 

Wales was peopled originally by the ancestors of the Irish Gael, at least 
the Welsh retain a tradition among them that their Cumric or Cymric 
forefathers drove the Gvvydhil, a term by which they have always distin- 

* Dr Macphcrson's Critical Dissert., p. 115. 
t Plin. 4. 16. 



guished the Irish, into Ireland. This tradition appears to be fully con- 
firmed by the fact, that many names of mountains and rivers in Wales 
are Gaelic. Though allied in language, and evidently of the race with 
the Gael, the Welsh never adopted that term, but have always retained 
the distinctive appellation of Cumri or Cimmerich, to denote their 
origin from that division of that Celtic race which, under the different 
names of Cimmerii or Cimbri, peopled ancient Germany. The author 
of the Vindication of the Celts, thinks that Kimmerii or Cimmerii was 
the original name by which the Celtae were designated by themselves 
and other nations, because Homer uses the word Kififn^nu, and not Kel- 
tai ; and the Welsh still distinguish themselves by the name of Cumri 
or Cymry, (which they interpret "the first people,") and many of the 
early Greek writers more generally designate them by the appellation 
of Kimmeroi than Keltai. Waels was the appellation given by the 
Saxons to the Cumri, a term which was afterwards modernized into 
the present name of Welsh.* The similarity of Wael and Gael can 
only be accounted for by supposing that the Saxons intended to de- 
nominate the people of Wales by the generic term Gael, which the 
other Celtic inhabitants of the island applied to themselves. Indeed, 
in the Saxon Chronicle, the former inhabitants are termed indiflferently 
Brit-walas, or Brittas, or Wealas. 

The Celtic origin of the aborigines of North Britain, is admitted 
even by Pinkerton ; but he contends that the Caledonians of Tacitus 
were not descendants of this race, but Goths from Scandinavia, who 
settled in Scotland about two hundred years before the incarnation. 
He allows the identity of the Caledonians and Picts, though he had — 
before he completely examined the subject — held the opinion that the 
Plots were a new race who had come in upon the Caledonians in 
the third century and expelled them, and that the Caledonians 
were Cumric Britons ; but finding Tacitus, Eumenius, Ammianus 
Marcellinus, and Bede, opposed, as he imagines, to this idea, he was 
induced to alter his opinion, and to adopt the theory that the Picts 
or Caledonians were of Gothic origin. This hypothesis, however, 
will not bear the test of examination. It is true that Tacitus al- 
ludes to the large limbs and the red hair of the Caledonians, as in- 
dications of their German origin ; but such marks of resemblance are 
not sufficient of themselves to establish the point. The decisive evi- 
dence of speech, by which the affinity of nations can alone be clearly 
ascertained, is here wanting ; and as Tacitus, who often refers to the 
difference of language when treating of the Germans, is silent respect- 
ing any similarity between the language of the Caledonians and Ger- 
mans, it must be presumed, that no such resemblance existed, and 
consequently that the Caledonians were not of German or Gothic origin. 

* Sommers's Glossary voce Wallia at the end of the Decern Scriptores. Camden, 
p 135. 


The following account of the Caledonians, and of their southern 
neighbours the Maeatae, from a fragment of Dio, preserved by Xiphilin, 
certainly coincides better with the descriptions of the Britons of the 
south, found in the pages of Caesar and Tacitus, than with those given 
by the same writers of the Germans. " Of the (northern) Britons 
there are two great nations called Caledonii and Maeatae ; for the rest 
are generally referred to these. The Maeatae dwell near that wall which 
divides the island into two parts. The Caledonians inhabit beyond 
them. They both possess rugged and dry mountains, and desert plains 
full of marshes. They have neither castles nor towns ; nor do they 
cultivate the ground ; but live on their flocks, and hunting, and the 
fruits of some trees ; not eating fish, though extremely plenteous. They 
live in tents, naked, and without buskins. Wives they have in com- 
mon, and breed up their children in common. The general form of 
government is democratic. They are addicted to robbery, fight in 
cars, have small and swift horses. Their infantry are remarkable for 
speed in running, and for firmness in standing. Their armour consists 
of a shield, and a short spear, in the lower end of which is a brazen 
apple, whose sound, when struck, may terrify the enemy. They have 
also daggers. Famine, cold, and all sorts of labour they can bear, for 
they will even stand in their marshes, for many days, to the neck in 
water, and in the woods will live on the bark and roots of trees. They 
prepare a certain kind of food on all occasions, of which taking onl}'^ a 
bit the size of a bean, they feel neither hunger nor thirst. Such is 
Britain (he had, in a previous part of his work, given a description of 
the island), and such are the inhabitants of that part which wars against 
the Romans," * 

With regard to the tradition referred to Bede, as current in his 
time, that the Caledonians or Picts came from the north of Germany, 
it cannot, even if well founded, prove their Gothic origin ; for as Father 
Innes observes, " though we should suppose that the Caledonians or 
Picts. had their origin from the northern parts of the European conti- 
nent, as Tacitus seems to conjecture, and as it was reported to Bede, 
that would not hinder the Caledonians from having originally had the 
same language as the Britons ; since it appears that the Celtic language, 
whereof the British is a dialect, was in use in ancient times in the 
furthest extremities of the north ; at least the Celts or Celto-Scyths 
were extended to these parts ; for Strabo tells us that the ancient 
Greek writers called all the northern nations Celto-Scyths, or Scyths ; 
and Tacitus assures us that in his time the Gallic tongue was in use 
among some of these northern people, such as the Gothini ; and the 
British tongue among others, as the iEstii/'f Mr Pinkerton himself 
admits that the Celts were the ancient inhabitants of Europe, of which 

« Apiul Pinkerton's Enquiry, vol. i. Appendix, No. IV. 
f Crilical Kssny, vol. i. p. TV. 



they appear, he says, to have held the most before their expulsion by 
the other nations of Asia, and in proof of the great extent of their 
possessions in the north, he refers to the Promontorium Celticae of 
Pliny, which, from the situation he gives it, and the names around, he 
conjectures must have been near Moscow.* 

The appellation of Picti, by which the Caledonians to the north 
of the Clyde and the Forth came to be distinguished by the Ro- 
mans in the third century, made Stillingfleet and other writers sup- 
pose, that the Picts were a distinct people who had then recently 
arrived in Scotland ; but this mistake has been so fully exposed by 
Innes, Chalmers, Pinkerton, and others, that it is quite unnecessary 
to do more than barely to allude to it. The names of Caledoni- 
ans and Picts, as well as the appellation of Scots, by which another 
portion of the inhabitants of the north of Scotland came also to 
be distinguished, were at all times, as Mr Grant observes, unknown 
to the original inhabitants as national appellations, and their descen- 
dants remain ignorant of them to this day. He thinks that the term 
Caledoniif the name by which the people living northward of the Friths 
of Clyde and Forth were called by the Romans, was not invented by 
Agricola, the first Roman general who penetrated into North Britain, 
but was an appellation taken from the words Na Caoillaoin, signifying 
the men of the woods, a name which he probably found given by the 
inhabitants of the country upon the southern sides of the Glotta and 
Bodotria, to the people living beyond these arms of the sea, on account 
of the woody nature of the country which they possessed.f 

The Latinized term Caledonii was first used by Tacitus, and, with 
the exception of Herodian, who, in his account of the expedition of 
Severus, calls these Caledonii of Tacitus, Britons, is the appellation 
by which the inhabitants northward of the Friths are distinguished by 
all the Roman writers down to the orator Eumenius, who, for the first 
time, in an oration which he delivered before the Emperor Constantine, 
in the year two hundred and ninety-seven, calls the Caledonians Picti* 
Eumenius appears, however, to have used this term in a limited sense, 
as from another oration which he delivered in presence of the same 
emperor, eleven years thereafter, he alludes to the " Caledones aliique 
Picti," but although it is clear from this expression, that the terms Ca- 
ledonii and Picti were used to denote the same people, the cause of this 
nominal distinction between the extra-provincial Britons is not so ap- 

The next allusion to the Picts is by Ausonius, a poet of the fourth 
century, and preceptor of Gratian. 

" Viridera distinguit glarea museum 

Tota CaledouHii talis pictura Brilaimis.** 

* Enquiry, vol. i. p. 13. Ed in. 1814. 
t Thoughts on the Gu'el, p. 871. 


Claudian, who lived about the beginning of the fifth century, also 
mentions the Picts. 

=^" Ferroque notatas, 

Perlegin exanimes Picto moriente figuras.''* 

And in another place,f where he gives an account of the victories of 
Theodosius, he says, 

" I He leves Maurous, nee falso nomine Pictos 

About the end of the fourth, or beginning of the fifth century, the 
Caledonians, or Picts, were divided by Ammianus Marcellinus, the his- 
torian, into the Deucaledones and Vecturiones,^ a division which seems 
to account for the distinction of Eumenius before observed. The ety- 
ma of these two terms has been attempted by different writers, but 
without success, as Mr Grant thinks. The term Deucaledones he 
however thinks, is attended with no difficulty. " Duehaoilldoin sig- 
nifies in the Gaelic language, the real or genuine inhabitants of the 
woods, J)u, pronounced short, signifies black; but pronounced long, 
signifies real, genuine, and in this acceptation the word is in common 
use : Du Erinnach, a genuine Irishman ; Du Albinrhach, a genuine 
Scotchman, The appellation of Deucaledones served to distinguish the 
inhabitants of the woody valleys of Albinn, or Scotland, from those of 
the cleared country on the east coast of Albinn, along its whole extent, 
to certain distances westward towards the mountains in the interior parts 
of the country. These last were denominated, according to Latin pro- 
nunciation, Vecturiones ; but in the mouths of the Gael, or native inha- 
bitants, the appellation was pronounced Uachtarich, It may be observed, 
that the western division of Albinn, from the Friths northward along the 
range of mountains, which was anciently called Drumalbinn, consists of 
deep narrow valleys, which were in former times completely covered 
with closely growing woods, and which exhibited a different aspect of 
country from a great portion of that which fells from Drumalbinn in all 
directions towards the east coast of the country, which spreads out in 
larger tracts of level surface, and is generally of higher elevation than the 
bottoms of the deep valleys which cliierly form what is called the High- 
lands of Scotland at this day. The Vecturiones appeared to possess the 
more level surface of the country, while the Deucaledones inhabited the 
narrow deep valleys which were universally completely covered with 
thickly growing woods. That a portion o^ the country was known in 
ancient times by Uachtar, is evinced by the well known range of hills 
called Druim- Uachlar^ from which the country descends in every direc- 
tion towards the inhabited regions on all sides of that mountainous 

* Do Bello Gelico. f Pancg. Conf. Honor. \ Lib. 21. 

\ 'I'lioiiglus oji tlic Origin and Descent of the Gael, p. 27'i, 277. 


With respect to the term Picti^ it is unnecessary to search for its 
etymon any where but in the well known practice which existed among 
the ancient Britons of painting their bodies with a blue juice ex- 
tracted from woad called glastum, in Gaul, according to Pliny, 
who says that it resembled plantain. This custom was universal 
among the Britons in the time of Caesar, who informs us that they 
thereby intended to make themselves look more terrible to their 
enemies in battle.* As the Roman arms prevailed, and civilization 
was diffused, this barbarous practice was gradually given up, and it 
is supposed that about the end of the second, or beginning of the 
third century, it had been wholly disused by the provincial Britons, 
including, of course, the midland Britons, or MaeataB of the Romans, 
living between the northern walls. To distinguish, therefore, these 
provincials who had submitted themselves to the Roman laws, and 
had laid aside many of their barbarous customs, from the uncon- 
quered Caledonians of the north, the Roman writers gave them the 
Latinized appellation of Picti, in reference to the practice of painting 
their bodies, which, after the expedition of Severusf into the north of 
Scotland, was observed to be in general use among the barbarous 
tribes of that country by those who accompanied him. The same dis- 
tinction was afterwards Gaelicized by the Irish and ancient Scots into 
Cruinithy or Cruineacht, from the Gaelic verb Cruinicamy to paint. 
The Picts were called by the southern Britons Phychthead, a term which 
resembles Pichatach, a Gaelic word signifying pie-coloured, variegated, 
or painted.J From the practice alluded to, Innes thinks that the name 
Britannia was derived, Brith in the Celtic signifying, according to 
Camden, painty and Tannia in the same language, according to 
Pezron5§ country ; so that Britannia originally signified the country of 
the painted, or figured people. || 

Although the national distinctions of Scots and Picts appear to have 
been unknown to the ancient inhabitants of North Britain till the sixth 

• Comm. Book v. 

t The following account of Severus's expedition, is taken from the fragment of Dio 
before referred to : — " Of this island, not much less than the half is ours. Severiis, 
wishing to reduce the whole under his power, entered Caledonia. In his march he met 
with unspeakable difficulties in cutting down woods, levelling eminences, raising banlcs 
across the marshes, and building bridges over the rivers. He fouglit no battle, the 
enemy never appearing in array, but advisedly placing sheep and oxen in the way of our 
troops, that while our soldiers attempted to seize them, and by the fraud were drawn 
into defiles, they might be easily cut off. The lakes likewise were destructive to our 
men, as dividing them, so that tliey fell into ambuscades; and while they could not be 
brought off, were slain by our army, that they might not fall into the hands of the enemy. 
Owing to these causes, there died no less than fifty thousand of our troops. Severus, 
however, did not desist till he had reached the extreme part of the island, where he di- 
ligently remarked the diversity of the solar course, and the length of the nights and days 
in summer and winter." 

\ Huddleston's Notes to Toland's History of the Druids, p. 338. 

§ Antiq. des Gauls, p. 378, 418. || Critical F:ssay, vol. i. p. 59. 


century, when a Scoto-Irish colony established themselres on the shores 
of Argyle, there is reason to believe that, from a very remote period, these 
aborigines were accustomed to distinguish themselves by distinctive appel- 
lations, having reference to the nature of their occupations. They were 
divided into two classes ; — the cultivators of the soil, who attached them- 
selves to spots favourable to agriculture in the valleys of the highlands 
and in the lowland districts ; and the feeders of flocks, who led a wan- 
dering pastoral life among the mountainous regions. The former were 
termed by the pastoral Gael, Draonaich, a generic term, which, although 
chiefly appMcable to persons employed in the labours of the field, was 
meant as descriptive of all who practised any art by which a livelihood 
was procured. The Draonaichj on the other hand, called the pastoral 
portion of the people, Scuit, or SccBoit, meaning the moving or nomadic 
bodies of people, such as the pastoral Gael were, who kept moving from 
time to time in small bodies between the mountains and valleys with 
their herds and flocks at various periods during the course of the year.* 
This practice existed even down to a very recent period among the 
Highlanders of Scotland. Mr Grant conjectures, but we think erro- 
neously, that it is to this pastoral class Ammianus Marcellinus alludes 
in the following sentence in the last of his works, written in the year 
three hundred and sixty-eight. '* Picti in duos gentes divisi, Dicale- 
dones et Vecturiones, itidemque Attacotti^ bellicosa hominum natio ; et 
Scoti per diversa vagantes multa populabaniur.'' This is the first time 
the Scots are mentioned m history ; for Father Innes has shown that 
the passage respecting the ScoticcB gentes cited by Usher from St 
Jerome as taken from Porphyry, is not Porphyry's, but an expres- 
sion of St Jerome's, in his letter to Ctesiphon, written after the 
year four hundred and twelve.f 

The etymon of the word Scoti has long puzzled antiquaries and phi- 
lologists. From the promiscuous way in which the Anglo-Saxon 
writers used the terms Scythae and Scoti, and from the verbal resem- 
blance between these words, some writers, among whom is Innes, conjec- 
ture that the latter is derived from the former, the difference in pronun- 
ciation arising merely from the different accent of the people, who 
wrote or spoke of the ancient nations. From analogy, WalsinghamJ 
supposes, that as Gethi is the same as Got/ii, and Gethicus as GothicuSy 
so Scoti may have come from Scyihce, and Scoticus from Scythicus.§ 
The reason why the Anglo-Saxon writers used the terms Scythae and 
Scoti indiscriminately, is obvious from the fact, that in the German the 

* Grant. f Critical Essay, vol. ii. p. 514. \ Apodigma Neustrise, p. 552. 

^ Walsingham borrows this idea from the old Chronicon Rythmicum, (See No. VI. 
Appendix to Innes), the first part of uhich, consisting of eight chapters, was writico 
before the }ear 1291. 

'• Nam velut a Gethia Geticus, sea Gothia Gothf, 
Dicitur a Silhia Sithicus, sic Scotia Scuti." 


Scythians and Scots are called Scutten, According to Camden, Y-Scot 
is the terra by which the Scythians and Scots are termed in the an- 
cient British tongue, a term which approaches very closely to the Scuit 
or Scaoit of the Gael. Pelloutier observes,* that the Celts were an- 
ciently known by the general name of Scythians, but Herodotus, the 
father of profane history, and who is the first author that alludes to 
them, considers them as a distinct people. As the word Scythae, how- 
ever, seems at last to have been used as a generic term for all nomadic 
tribes, it is not improbable that certain portions of the Celts who led 
a wandering pastoral life, were included under the general denomina- 
tion of Scythians by the ancient writers. Hence the origin of the 
British appellation Y-Scot may be easily accounted for ; and it is from 
that term, and not from the kindred word Scythae, that the Latinized 
term Scoti is, as we think, derived. 

From the appellation Scoti not occurring in history till the fourth 
century, an opinion has been formed that the Scots were a new people, 
who had, a few centuries before, settled in Ireland, and that they were 
of a different race from either the Gwydhil of Ireland, or the Cale- 
donii of Tacitus. The grounds, however, on which this opinion rests, 
are insufficient to support such an hypothesis, and as far as these are 
adduced in proof of an alleged distinctness of origin between the Irish 
Gael and the Scots, are negatived by the analogy of speech. Pinker- 
ton is at great pains to show, that the Scots were Scythians or Goths, 
(terms which with him are synonymous,) who passed into Ireland from 
the coast of Belgic Gaul about three centuries before the birth of Christ, 
and vanquished the original Celtic population ; but his reasoning is in- 
conclusive, and being fully aware of the insurmountable objection which 
would be brought forward against his system from the absence of any 
remains of the Gothic tongue in Ireland, he is obliged to arrive at the 
extraordinary conclusion, that the Scythae, who, he supposes, conquered 
Ireland, lost their speech and adopted that of the vanquished I Conjec- 
tures like these are even more absurd than the fables of the Irish bards 
and Seanachies. 

The origin and history of the ancient Scots of Ireland and North Bri- 
tain, to which a slight allusion has been made in the body of this work, 
are subjects which have been discussed with great learning and inge- 
nuity. By some writers they are considered as a nation wholly distinct 
from the Celtic tribes which originally peopled the British islands, and 
as having arrived at a comparatively recent period from the shores of 
the continent ; while others, with better reason, regard them as a pow- 
erful branch of the Celtic family, and a part of the aboriginal population 
which came to acquire such a predominance over the other branches of 
the Celtic race, first in Ireland, and afterwards in Scotland, as to excite 
the special notice of the Roman and Saxon writers. 

« Histo\re des Celtes, vol. i. p. 123. 


From the term Scoti having been first used in the third or tourth cen- 
tury, Father Innes supposes that they may have emigrated to Ireland 
in the interval between the reigns of Augustus or Tiberius and the 
third or fourth century, and from the name, which he considers synony- 
mous with Scythae, he conjectures that the Scots came either from 
Scandinavia or the Cimbrian Chersonesus. In support of this opinion 
he thinks that the migration of the Scots from the north may be 
inferred, 1. From an extraordinary increase of population which 
some writers believe to have been peculiar to the northern nations. 
2. From the fact that the northern nations whose territories were 
bounded by the sea, were often compelled to abandon their habita- 
tions to more powerful neighbours, and forced to embark in quest of 
new dwellings. 3. That as these northern maritime nations, during 
the period in question, were so closely hemmed in by the Romans, 
and as they had no means of discharging their superfluous population 
among the nations behind them, already overburdened with their 
own yearly increasing population, it was very natural that the most 
warlike and resolute among them, impatient of being thus confined and 
enclosed, should resolve to put to sea in pursuit of new habitations, nor 
had they a more natural course to choose than to the opposite coasts of 
North Britain, or, if repulsed by the warlike Caledonians, to sail from 
thence to Ireland, where they were more likely to succeed among a 
people unaccustomed to foreigners. Nor could their coming to Ireland 
be more seasonably placed than during these first ages of Christianity, 
when the Roman empire was at the height of its power and extent. 
Besides, the placing this invasion of Ireland in these first ages agrees 
perfectly with the first appearance of these people in Britain in the 
third or fourth age by the name of Scots, some time being required for 
making themselves masters of Ireland before they could be in a condi- 
tion to send out bodies of men in conjunction with the Caledonians, or 
Picts, to attack the Roman empire in Britain towards the middle of the 
fourth century, as mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus.* 

But this theory of the northern origin of the Scots being in opposi- 
tion to the Irish tradition, that Ireland was peopled from Spain, Innes 
supposes that this tradition may have relation to other colonies, some of 
which may nrobably have come from Spain to Ireland before the arrival 
of the Scots. Yet even on the supposition that the Scots came origi- 
nally from Spain, he maintains that such an hypothesis is not incom- 
patibile with the period of their supposed in^ asion, or with their 
alleged Scythian origin. For, as stated by Florusf and Orosius4 the 
Romans, in the reign of Augustus, met with the greatest difficulties in 
reducing the Cantabrians and Asturians, and other unconquered na- 
tions in Galicia, in the northern parts of Spain opposite to Ireland, and 
the greater part of the inhabitants of those parts chose rather to retire 

« Critical Essay, vol. ii. p. 639, et seq. f ^-'^^ >^- ^- ^2. t Lib. vi. c. 84. 


to the hills and rocks, and to the most remote places, than lose their 
liberty and submit to the Roman yoke. Now, although neither of the 
authors above named, who give an account of the Cantabrian war, make 
mention of any emigrations from Spain, it is by no means improbable 
that many of the Galicians who had abandoned their habitations would 
seek new abodes, and as the passage from the northern extremities ol 
Spain to Ireland, with which country they could not be unacquainted, 
was very easy, and as shipping was then in general use, they would 
naturally direct their course to it, which would fall an easy conquest to 
such warlike invaders. 

Aware, however, that such a recent settlement of the Scots as hero 
contended for, could not be supported by the testimony of contempor- 
ary or ancient writers, and was at variance with the traditions in Irish 
and Scottish history, which, though differing in some respects, agree in 
assigning a very remote period to the Scottish colonization, this ingeni- 
ous antiquary has recourse to a negative kind of proof in support of 
his system, from the usual effects with which such a revolution as the 
coming in of a new and foreign people upon the ancient inhabitants 
would be naturally followed. In applying this proof to the Irish Scots, 
he compares the marks and characters given them by the earliest writ- 
ers at their first appearance in history, and in the times immediately 
following their first being mentioned in Ireland and Britain, with the 
first appearances and beginnings of the Franks when they settled among 
the Gauls. 

1. Though history had been silent respecting the settlement of the 
Franks in Gaul in the fourth or fifth century, yet as no ancient writer 
mentions the existence of such a people in Gaul before these periods, and 
as all writers on Gaul since the fifth and sixth centuries allude to the 
Franks as inhabitants of Gaul, it is evident that their settlement in Gaul 
could not be earlier than the centuries first mentioned. In the same 
manner, though we have no distinct account of the arrival of the Scots 
in Ireland in the first ages of Christianity, and as the name of Scots was 
never heard of till the third or fourth century, after which they are 
mentioned as inhabitants of Ireland or of North Britain, the settlement 
of the Scots cannot be placed earlier than the era of the incarnation, or 
after it. The inhabitants of Ireland are called Hyberni, Hyberione, 
&c. by all the ancient writers before the third or fourth century, and 
Ptolemy, the geographer, who enumerates about twenty different tribes 
in Ireland, is entirely silent as to the existence of the Scots. 

2. Before the Franks settled in Gaul they appear in history as a wan- 
dering people, the characteristic of the Scots as given by Ammianus 
Marcellinus ; Scoti per diversa vagantes. 

3. As after the Franks settled in Gaul, two people thenceforth appear 
in history as the inhabitants of that country, under the denominations of 
the Gallic the original inhabitants, and the Francis the new settlers, — 
so in Ireland two kinds of people appear in the fourth or fifth centuries, 

I. g 


liie one distinguished as Hyberni, the term by which the ancient in- 
habitants of that island were distinguished, the other as Scoti, who then 
appear as a new people never before heard of in Ireland. 

4. As the Franci were distinguished from the Gallic not only by 
their name but by their qualities, the Franci appearing, by being mas- 
ters or conquerors, as the nobihty and gentry, and the Galli, the an- 
cient inhabitants, as the Colonic or commons, so the Scots appear after 
their settlement in Ireland distinguished in like manner from the Hy- 
berni, The Scotif as being the conquerors, appear as the nobility or 
gentry, as appears from the confession or apology of St Patrick, written 
by him in the fifth century, and from his letter to Coroticus, in both of 
which he calls the Scots the Reguli, or nobles, and the native Irish, or 
ancient inhabitants, Hyberionce, or Hybernigence, as the common and 
ordinary people. 

5. Another remarkable resemblance between the Franks and Scots 
consisted in their warlike disposition ; for no sooner did they obtain set- 
tlements in Gaul and Ireland, than — unlike the more peaceful people 
whom they subdued — they kept themselves in a warlike attitude, ready 
to invade the neighbouring provinces and enlarge their conditions. 
Thus it does not appear that the ancient inhabitants of Ireland ever in- 
vaded Britain, and so little did they resemble the Caledonians in mili- 
tary prowess, that, according to the information given by Agricola to 
Tacitus, one legion and a few auxiliary troops would have been suf- 
ficient for the conquest of Ireland. But no sooner do the Scots appear 
in history than we find them in arras, making warlike expeditions into 
Britain, joining the Picts and attacking the Roman legions. 

6. As Gaul still retained its old name long after the Franks had con- 
quered it, and was, before these settlers finally communicated their name 
to that country, indifferently called Gaul or France, so, in like manner, 
long after the Scots had settled in Ireland, it still retained the name of 
Hybernia or lerncy and it was only by degrees that it got the new name 
of Scotia, St Gregory the Great, who flourished in the beginning of 
the sixth century, is supposed to be the first writer who gave the name 
of Francia to Gaul ; and St Laurence, archbishop of Canterbury in 
the beginning of the seventh century, is believed to have first given the 
name of Scotia to Ireland, in a letter to the bishops and clergy of that 
kingdom, alluded to by Bede.* After this period, Hybernia and 
Scotia are used synonymously, till by the prevalence of the Scottish 
power in North Britain, the name was transferred and came to be ex- 
clusively confined to that country. Whence then could Ireland derive 
the name of Scotia^ but from a new people having settled in it bearing 
a similar appellation ? Analogy fully supports this hypothesis, for thus 
it was that the Gauls acquired the name of Francia ; a part of southern 
Gaul that of Gothia ; other parts those of Burgundiay Normanniaf 

• Lib. ii. c. 4. 


&c. ; a part of Italy, Longohardia ; and South Britain) those of Saxonia 
and A?iglia,* 

Such are the arguments by which the erudite Innes endeavours to 
evolve the intricate question respecting the era of the Scottish settle- 
ment, and from which he infers that the Scots, properly so called, were 
not originally the same race of people with the first and ancient inha- 
bitants of Ireland, but a distinct nation that arrived in Ireland only 
after the time of the Incarnation, having all those characteristics of new 
settlers, which distinguished the Franks and the other nations, which, 
like them about the third, fourth, and subsequent centuries, established 
themselves in the countries which they conquered. But plausible as 
these reasons are, they cannot supply the want of historical evidence, 
of which not a vestige can be shown in support of the theory for which 
they are adduced. Besides, the analogy from the history of the Franks 
is radically incomplete, as their conquests in Gaul were followed by a 
revolution in the language of the ancient inhabitants, which, on the 
supposition that the Scots were a new people, did not take place either 
in Ireland or in Scotland when they obtained the ascendancy, nor at 
any subsequent period of their history. No point connected with Irish 
and Scottish antiquities has been more clearly established than this, 
that the language of the native Irish, including of course the Scots of 
that island, and that of the Highlanders of Scotland, has always been, 
from the most remote period, radically the same. Though separated 
perhaps for upwards of twenty centuries, the Gael of Connaught, and 
those of Scotland, can mutually understand each other, and even con- 
verse together. 

The only plausible answer that can be made against what appears to 
us an insurmountable objection to Innes's theory, is by assuming that 
the language of the Scots and the ancient inhabitants of Ireland was 
the same, or at least that if any difference did exist, it was merely a 
difference in dialect ; but neither Innes nor any of the writers who have 
adopted his system have ventured upon the assertion. Pinkerton, 
aware of the force of the objection we have stated, was so unphiloso- 
phical as to maintain, that the Scots of Ireland, who he admits as soon 
as known in history spoke the Celtic tongue, had lost their original lan- 
guage in that of the vanquished. " Long before Christianity," he ob- 
serves, " was settled in Ireland, perhaps, indeed, before the birth of 
Christ, the Scots or Scythae, who conquered Ireland, had lost their 
speech in that of the greater number of the Celts, the common people, 
as usually happens. From England and Scotland the Celts had crowded 
to the west, and vast numbers had passed to Ireland. The mountain- 
ous north and west of England, the Friths of Scotland, had formed bar- 
riers between the Goths and Celts. But in Ireland, the grand and last 
receptacle of the Celts, and whither almost their whole remains 

• Critical Essny, vol. ii. p. 513; et seq. 


finally flowed, it is no wonder that the Gothic conquerors, the Scots« 
lost their speech in that of the population."* Conquerors, indeed, have 
never been able to efface the aboriginal language of a country ; and 
though they have succeeded in altering its form to suit their own idiom, 
the original language still remained the ground-work of the new super- 
structure ; but it is believed that no instance can be adduced of the lan- 
guage of the conquerors having entirely effaced that of the conquered 
as here supposed. 

If any reliance could be placed upon the traditions of the Irish bards 
and seannachies, some approximation might be made to fixing the epoch 
of the arrival of the Scots ; but the mass of fiction which, under the 
name of history, disfigures the annals of Ireland, does not afford any 
data on which to found even a probable conjecture. The era of the 
settlement of the Irish-Scots in North Britain, however, is matter of 
real history. This settlement took place about the year two hundred 
and fifty-eight, when a colony of Scots, under the conduct of a leader 
named Reuda, crossed over from Ireland and established themselves on 
the north of the Clyde. Alluding to this emigration, Venerable Bede 
observes, " In process of time Britain, after the Britons and Picts, re- 
ceived a third nation that of the Scots, in that part belonging to the 
Picts ; who, emigrating from Ireland under their leader Reuda, either 
by friendship or arms, vindicated to themselves those seats among them 
which they to this time hold. From which leader they are called Dal- 
reudini to this day ; for in their language, dal signifies a part."f 

Among the modern Irish writers, Kennedy is the first who mentions 
this emigration, his predecessors, either from ignorance of the fact, or 
from a desire to fix the settlement of the Scoto-Irish at a later period, 
making no allusion to it. " Our books of antiquity," says Kennedy, 
" giving an account at large of the children and race of Conar Mac- 
Mogalama, king of Ireland, mention that he had three sons, Carbre 
Muse, Carbre Baskin, and Carbre Riada ; and that the first was by 

another name, ^ngus ; the second, Olfile ; and the third, Eocha 

Our writers unanimously tell us that Carbre Riada was the founder of 
the Scottish sovereignty in Britain ; but they make him only a captain, 
as Venerable Bede does, or conductor, who ingratiated himself so far 
with the Picts, by his and his children's assistance, and good service 
against the Britons, that they consented that they and their followers 
should continue among them.":j: 

This account, as far as tlie arrival of the Scots is concerned, is corro- 
borated by Ammianus Marccllinus, who, about a centur}' after the period 
assigned, mentions for the first time the existence of this people in 

* Enquiry, vol ii. p. 48. 

t " Procedente autem tempore, Britttnuia, post Britones et Pictos, tertiam Scottorum 

iiatiunem in Piciorum parte recepit. Qui, ducc Reuda, de Hibernia egressi vel amicitia, 

\ol I'ciTo sibimet inter jos sedcs, quiis luu'tenus habcnt vindiinrunl. A quo vidclicel 

dufc u«quc hodie Dalreudini voranfur; nam lingua conini dal partem signiticat." 

I Gciicidogical Dibsertulion, p. 10^1 — 107. 




North Britain, who, in conjunction with the Picts, had begun to make 
themselves formidable to the Romans. That the Scoti of Amraianus 
were distinct from the Picts is evident, and as the Scots were unknown 
to Agricola and Severus, they must have arrived in Scotland posterior 
to the celebrated expedition of the latter. 

Besides the Scottish auxiliaries, the Picts were aided by a warlike 
people called Attacotti ; but although Ammianus seems to distinguish 
them from the Scoti, Pinkerton thinks that the term Attacotti was 
neither more nor less than the name given by the provincial Britons to 
the Dalreudini. This conjecture appears to be well founded, as Richard 
of Cirencester places in Ptolemy's map, the Attacotti on the north of the 
Frith of Clyde, and the Damni Albani just above them, being in the very 
position in which the Dalreudini are placed by Bede on their arrival. "The 
Attacotti make a distinguished figure in the Notitia Imperii^ a work of 
the fifth century, where numerous bodies of them appear in the list of 
the Roman army. One body was in Illyricum, their ensign a kind of 
mullet ; another at Rome, their badge a circle : the Attacotti Honoriani 
were in Italy. In the same work are named bodies of Parthians, Sar- 
matae, Arabs, Franks, Saxons, &c. These foreign soldiers had, in all 
likelihood, belonged^© vanquished armies ; and been spared from car- 
nage on condition of bearing arms in those of Rome. Some, it is likely, 
were foreign levies and auxiliaries. To which class those Attacotti be- 
longed is difficult to say. Certain it is, that Theodosius, in 368, re- 
pelled the Piks, Scots, and Attacotti, from the Roman provinces in 
Britain ; rebuilt the wall of Antoninus between Forth and Clyde ; and 
founded the province of Valentia. The Attacotti, finding no employment 
for their arms, might be tempted to enter into the Roman armies ; for it 
was the Roman policy in latter ages to levy as many foreign troops as 
possible, and to oppose barbarians to barbarians. Perhaps the Atta- 
cotti were subdued, and forced to furnish levies. Perhaps these bodies 
were prisoners of war." * 

Of the Celtic language there were at no \e\y distant period seven 
dialects, viz. the Waldensian, the Armorican, or Bas Breton, the Cor- 
nish, the Welsh, the Manks, the Irish, and the Scottish Gaelic. The 
Basque, or Cantabrian,is considered bj'' some philologists as a dialectof the 
Celtic, but although it contains many words from that language, these bear 
too small a proportion to the other words of a different origin, of which 
the Basque is chiefly composed, to entitle it to be classed among the 
Celtic idioms. With the exception of the Waldensian and Cornish, the 
other dialects are still spoken ; but remains of the former exist in cer- 
tain manuscripts collected by Sir Samuel Morland, and preserved in the 
public library of the university of Cambridge, where they were lodged 
in the year sixteen hundred and fifty- eight, and the latter has been pre- 
served in books. Of these different dialects, the Waldensian, the Ar- 

* Piiikertou's Eii<iuiry, vol. ii. p. 73. 


morican, the Cornish, and the Welsh form one family, the parent of 
which was probably the idiom of Celtic Gaul, which it is conjectured 
was the same with the language of the ancient Britons ; while the close 
affinity between the Manks, the Irish, and the Gaelic, shows that 
they are relics of the idiom spoken by the early inhabitants of Ire- 
land. All these dialects are more or less allied, but those of Wales 
and Armofica are the most closely connected, and differ so little from 
each other, that the natives of Brittany and Wales mutually understand 
each other. According to Lhuyd, a considerable dissimilarity exists be- 
tween the Welsh and Irish dialects ; but he is mistaken in this idea, as 
out of twenty-five thousand words in the Irish dictionary, eight thou- 
sand are common words in Welsh. Besides most of the general pre- 
fixes and terminations of the different classes of words used by the Irish 
are also in the Welsh, and the two dialects also agree in various affini- 
ties of idioms and construction.* 

The similarity between the dialects of Wales and Armorica, has 
been ascribed to two causes: 1. To the intercourse which it is well 
known existed for a long time, and at an early period, between 
the ancient inhabitants dwelling on the opposite coasts of the chan- 
nel ; and 2. To the fact of a British colony having emigrated to the 
Armor lean coast after the invasion of Britain by the Saxons. His- 
tory, however, affords so little information respecting the date of this 
settlement and the circumstances attending it, that it cannot be ascer- 
tained whether those British Celts remained a distinct people, or were 
incorporated with the original inhabitants. From the close connexion 
which had previously subsisted between these new settlers and the na. 
tives, and their similarity in language and customs, the probability is 
that they gradually intermingled. A conjecture has been hazarded, 
that from these British settlers the Britons of Gaul derived their name, 
but this term was in use in Gaul before the era of the Saxon invasion ; 
for Sidonius Appollinaris alludes to the Britons living upon the banks of 
the Loire ; and as early as the council of Tours, which was held in four 
hundred and sixty-one, Mansuetus, bishop of the " Britones," is men- 
tioned among the bishops who attended the council from *' Lugudensis 
Tertia," or Brittany.f Perhaps an earlier colony from the British 
shores were the ancestors of those early Gaulish Britons. 

Whoever examines the Manks, Irish, and Gaelic dialects critically, 
must be convinced that originally the language of the ancestors of the 
people who now speak these different idioms, must have been the same. 
Corrupted as the Manks is by a greater admixture of exotic words, it is 
still understood by the Highlanders of Scotland ; and the natives of 
Connaught, where the Irish is the purest, and the Scottish Gael 
can, without much difficulty, make themselves mutually understood 

• Vindicaliop of the Cilts, jv 147. 
♦ Reccull des Hisluritna dts Gaules ei de iii iTuiice. JBouijiiet, loni. 1. p. 7^5. 


Priority in point of antiquity has been claimed, for the Irish over 
the other Celtic dialects ; but the advocates of this claim appear to 
carry it too far when they infer that the Gaelic is derived from the 
Iris^h. A com]« arisen of the primitive words which exist in each, shows 
their original identity, and many of the differences which now exist be- 
tween these dialects are to be ascribed to their collision with other lan- 
guages. It has, however, been observed that the Scottish Gaelic re- 
sembles more closely the parent Celtic, and has fewer inflections than 
the Welsh, Manks, or Irish dialects. In common with the Hebrew and 
other oriental languages, it is distinguished by this peculiarity, that it 
wants the simple present tense, a circumstance which is urged in sup- 
port of the opinion that the Gaelic of Scotland is the more ancient dia- 
lect.* The remarks of Lhuyd in his Archaeologia Britannica on the 
Irish, may, with some modification, be applied to its cognate idiom, the 
Gaelic. " To the antiquary this language is of the utmost importance ; 
it is rich in pure and simple primitives, which are proved such by the 
sense and structure of the largest written compounds ; by the supply of 
many roots which have been long obsolete in the Welsh and Armori- 
can, but still occur in the compounds of these languages, and by their 
use in connecting the Celtic dialects with Latin, Greek, and Gothic, 
and perhaps with some of the Asiatic languages." 

The invention of printing, which brought about such a speedy re- 
volution in the history of mind, and accelerated the progress of lit- 
erature, was long inoperative upon the Celtic population of Europe. 
The reason is obvious. For a considerable period the Latin tongue, 
which was the language of the western church, and had long been 
that of the learned, continued to be used in the various publica- 
tions which issued from the early press, in preference to the vulgar 
tongues ; and even when the latter came to be partially adopted, there 
were comparativelj'^ few persons who could read. Unacquainted as the 
great bulk of the European population was with letters, those scattered 
and insulated parts thereof, which comprised the Celtic race, par- 
ticipated in a more especial manner in the general ignorance ; and the 
few persons among them who were desirous of acquiring literary know- 
ledge, were obliged to seek for it in languages which were foreign to 
them. The paucity of printed works in the different dialects of the 
Celtic, and particularly among the Scottish Gael, is, therefore, not sur- 
prising. The Gaelic had, for many centuries before the invention of 
printing, ceased to be the language of the court ; and when that im- 
portant discovery was made, it was limited to a small and isolated por- 
tion of Scotland. In Ireland, however, the Irish, as the Gaelic is 
termed in Ireland, continued to be spoken by all classes of the popula- 
tion for six hundred years after the Gaelic had ceased to be spoken at 
the court of Scotland, and it was not till the reign of Elizabeth and 

• Preface to Armstrong's Gaelic Dictionary, p. ix. 


James 1., that the Irish nobility and gentry generally began to exchange 
their mother tongue for the English language. For this reason the Irish 
have more printed Gaelic works than the Scots. 

The first work printed for the use of the Highlanders was a transla- 
tion into Gaelic of John Knox's Liturgy, known better by the name of 
Bishop Carswell's Prayer Book. This, which is the first Gaelic book 
ever printed, issued from the press of Robert Lepreuck, an Edinburgh 
printer, and bears date, 24th April, 1367. One, or at most two entire 
copies only are now known to exist. One of these was in the duke of 
Argyll's library at Inverary castle, but is now amissing. Adelung has 
given a very accurate account of it in his Mithridates.* The following 
is a copy of the table of the contents of this very scarce work : — 

" Dontriath Chomhachtach cheirtbhreatach chiuinbhriathrach, do ghiollaes- 

Ebistil Thioghlaicthe. 
Admhail an Chreidimh. 
Doifige na Ministreadh and so sios. 
Do Mhinisdribh Eagluise De and da dtogha labhrus so seasda, agus dona 

coingheallaibh dhligheassiad do bheith iondta. 
Dona Foirfidheachaibh agas da noisige agas da dtogha and so sios. 
Dona Deochanaibh, agas da noisige agas da dtoghe, and so sios. 

Foirm an Bhaisdidh and so sios. 
Foirm Tsacramvinte Chuirp Chriosd re raitear Suiper an Tighearna, and so 

Teagasg do chum an Posaidli. 
Comhfhvrtacht na Neaslan. 
Do Smachtvghadh Na Heaglvise. 

Foirceadal an Chreidimh. 

Lemoinet says that an Irish Liturgy was printed at Dublin in 1566, 
for the use of the Highlanders of Scotland, but it is supposed that he 
alludes to the above-mentioned work, as no book is known to have been 
printed in Ireland till 1571, when the ' Alphabetum et ratio loquendi 
linguam Hibernicam, et Catechismus in eadem lingua," printed by John 
Kearney and Nicholas Walsh, made its appearance. 

An interval of sixty-four years took place till the next Gaelic publi- 
cation, which was a translation of Calvin's Catechism, printed at Edin- 
burgh in the year 1631, during which time there were published in 
Ireland a translation of the New Testament in 1603, being the first 
edition of any part of the Scriptures in Celtic, and a translation of the 
Book of Common Prayer, with the exception of the Psalms, in 1608. 

• Reid's Bibliotheca Scolo-Celtica, p. 43, 161 ; a work replete with valuable inform- 
ation on Celtic Literature. 

I Art of printing. 


Besides these there were published abroad ii^tlie Irish, first at Louvain 
in 1608, and afterwards at Antwerp in 1611 and 1618 ; — a Catechism, 
under the title of " Teagasg Criosdaidhe,'' and several other works. 

It was not until the year 1767, being one hundred and sixty-four 
years after the New Testament first appeared in Irish, that that portion 
of the Scriptures appeared in Gaelic. The translation was made by 
the Rev, James Stewart, minister of Killin ; and of this first edition, 
which was published both in octavo and duodecimo, ten thousand 
copies were printed. Since that time there have been seventeen edi- 
tions of the New Testament printed, probably averaging ten thousand 
copies each, thus making a total of about one hundred and eighty thou- 
sand copies. 

A translation of the Old Testament was published in four parts ; the 
first of which did not appear till 1783, upwards of a century atler the 
first Irish Bible was published. The remaining parts appeared succes- 
sively in 1786, 1787, and 1801. The Rev. Dr John Stuart, minister of 
Luss, was the translator of the first, second, and third parts ; and the 
Rev. Dr John Smith, minister of Campbelton, translated the fourth. Of 
this edition five thousand copies were printed, besides an extra quantity 
of the Pentateuch. A second edition of twenty thousand copies, with 
some alterations, chiefly in Isaiah, was printed in 1807. Nine other 
editions have since appeared. A complete enumeration of all the works 
which have been printed in Gaelic may be seen in the Bibliotheca Sco- 
to-Celtica, to which reference has already been made. These consist 
chiefly of translations ; a circumstance not to be wondered at, when we 
reflect on the many obstacles which, from local and other causes, checked 
the progress of science among the Highlanders, and the little induce- 
ments which literary men had to exhibit the treasures of knowledge in 
a language read by few, and which, from the prevalence of the English 
language, and the rapid changes which are taking place in the High- 
lands, seems destined at no distant period, to exist only in those works 
which were intended to insure its perpetuity as one of the living dialects 
of a language spoken at one time by the aboriginal population of Eu- 

• It is proper to state here, in order to prevent mistakes, that, from an oversight in 
copying the manuscript of the foregoing Dissertation for the press, one or two citations 
have not been indicated as such by inverted commas. This omission was not detected 
until it yraa too late to supply it. 




As connected with the literary history of the Celts, the following 
lists of Gaelic and Irish manuscripts, will, it is thought, be considered 


1. A folio MS. beautifully written on parchment or vellum, from 
the collection of the late Major Maclauchlan of Kilbride. This is the 
oldest MS. in the possession of the Highland Society of Scotland. It 
is marked Vo. A. No. I. The following remark is written on the mar- 
gin of the fourth leaf of the MS. : — " Oidche bealtne ann a coimhtech 
mo Pupu Muirciusa agus as olc Hum nach marunn diol in linesi dem 
dub Misi Fithil ace furnuidhe na scoile." Thus englished by the late 
Dr Donald Smith : — " The night of the first of May in Coenobium 
of my Pope Murchus, and I regret that there is not left of my ink 
enough to fill up this line. I am Fithil, an attendant on the school.'* 
This MS. which, from its orthography, is supposed to be as old as 
the eighth or ninth century, " consists (says Dr Smith) of a poem, 
moral and religious, some short historical anecdotes, a critical expo- 
sition of the Tain, an Irish tale, which was composed in the time of 
Diarmad, son of Cearval, who reigned over Ireland from the year 
544 to 563 ; and the Tain itself, which claims respect, as exceeding in 
point of antiquity, every production of any other vernacular tongue in 

On the first page of the vellum, which was originally left blank, there 
are genealogies of the families of Argyll and Mac Leod in the Gaelic 
handwriting of the sixteenth century. The genealogy of the Argyll 
family ends with Archibald, who succeeded to the earldom in 1542 and 
died in 1588.f This is supposed to be the oldest Gaelic MS. extant. 

• Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland on the Poems of 
Ossian, App. No. xix. p. 290. 

t It i3 therefore probable, that these genealogies were written about the middle of the 
Bixteenth century. A fac simile of tlie writing is to be found in the Report of the 
Committee of the Highland Society on the authenticity of Ossian, Plate II. 


Dr Smith conjectures that it may have come into the possession of the 
Maclachlans of Kilbride in the sixteenth century, as a Ferquhard, son 
of Ferquhard Maclachlan, was bishop of the IsFes, and had lona or I 
Colum Kille in commendam from 1530 to 1544. — See Keith's Cata- 
logue of Scottish Bishops. 

To the Tain is prefixed the following critical exposition, giving a 
brief account of it in the technical terms of the Scots literature of the 
remote age in which it was written. " Ceathardha connagur in each 
ealathuin is cuincda don tsairsisi na Tana. Loc di cedumus liehe 


Fercusa mhic Roich ait in rou hathnachd four raach Nai. Tempus 
umorro Diarmuta mhic Ceruailt in rigno Ibeirnia. Pearsa umorro 
Fergusa mhic Roich air is e rou tirchan do na hecsib ar chenu. A tu- 
caid scriuint dia ndeachai Seanchan Toirpda cona III. ri ecces ... do 
saighe Cuaire rig Condacht." That is — the four things which are 
requisite to be known in every regular composition are to be noticed in 
this work of the Tain. The place of its origin is the stone of Fergus, 
son of Roich, where he was buried on the plain of Nai. The time of 
it, besides, is that in which Diarmad, son of Cervail reigned over Ire- 
land. The author, too, is Fergus, son of Roich ; for he it was that 
prompted it forthwith to the bards. The cause of writing it was a 
visit which Shenachan Torbda, with three chief bards, made to Guaire, 
king of Connaught.* 

O'FIaherty thus concisely and accurately describes the subject and 
character of the Tain : — " Fergusius Rogius solo pariter ac solio Ui- 
toniae exterminatus, in Connactiam ad Ollilum et Maudam ibidem reg- 
nantes profugit ; quibus patrocinantibus, memorabile exarsit bellum 
septannale mter Connacticos et Ultonios multis poeticis figmentis, ut 
ea ferebat aetas, adornatum. Hujus belli circiter medium, octennio 
ante caput aerae Christianae Mauda regina Connactiae, Fergusio Rogio 
ductore, immensam bonum proedam conspicuis agentium et insectantium 
virtutibus memorabilem, e Cualgnio in agro Louthiano re portavit.''f 

From the expression, " Ut ea ferebat aetas," Dr Smith thinks that 
O'FIaherty considered the tale of the Tain as a composition of the age 
to which it relates ; and that of course he must not have seen the 
Critical Exposition prefixed to the copy here described. From the si- 
lence of the Irish antiquaries respecting this Exposition, it is supposed 
that it must have been either unknown to, or overlooked by them, 
and consequently that it was written in Scotland 

The Exposition states, that Sheanachan, with the three bards and 
those in their retinue, when about to depart from the court of Guaire> 
being called upon to relate the history of the Taiyi hho, or cattle spoil 
of Cuailgne, acknowledged their ignorance of it, and that having in- 
effectually made the round of Ireland and Scotland in quest of it ; 

* Report of the Committee of the Highland Society on Ossiun, App. No. xix. p. 

t Ogyg. p. S75. 


Eimin and Muircheartach, two of their number, repaired to the grave 
of Fergus, son of Roich, who being invoked, appeared at the end of 
three days in terrific gfandeur, and related the whole of the Tain, as 
given in the twelve Reimsgeala or Portions of which it consists. In the 
historical anecdotes, allusion is made to Ossian, the son of Fingal, who 
is represented as showing, when young, an inclination to indulge in so- 
litude his natural propensity for meditation and song, k fac simile of 
the characters of this MS. is given in the Highland Society's Report 
upon Ossian, Plate I. fig. 1, 2, and in Plate II. 

2. Another parchment MS. in quarto, equally beautiful as the for- 
mer, from the same collection. It consists of an Almanack bound 
up with a paper list of all the holidays, festivals, and most remarkable 
saints' days, in verse, throughout the year — A Treatise on Anatomy, 
abridged from Galen — Observations on the Secretions, &c. — The Schola 
Salernitana, in Leonine verse, drawn up about the year 1100, for the 
use of Robert, duke of Normandy, the son of William the Conqueror, 
by the famous medical school of Salerno. The Latin text is accom- 
panied with a Gaelic explanation, which is considered equally faithful 
and elegant, of which the following is a specimen : — 

Caput I. — Anglorum regi scripsit schola tota Salerni. 
1. As iat scol Salerni go hulidhe do scriou na fearsadh so do chum rig sag 
san do choimhed ashlainnte. 

Si vis incolumem, si vis te reddere sanum ; 
Curas telle graves, irasci crede prophanum. 
Madh ail bhidh fallann, agus madh aill bhidh slan -, Cuir na himsnimha troma 
dhit, agus creit giurub diomhain duit fearg do dhenumh. 

The words Leahhar Giollacholaim Meigbeatkadh, are written on the 
last page of this MS., which being in the same form and hand, with 
the same words on a paper MS. bound up with a number of others 
written upon vellum in the Advocate's Library, and before which is 
written Liber Malcolmi Bethune, it has been conjectured that both 
works originally belonged to Malcolm Bethune, a member of a family 
distinguished for learning, which supplied the Western Isles for many 
ages with physicians.* 

3. A small quarto paper MS. from the same collection, written 
at Dunstaffnage by Ewen Macphaill, 12th October 1603. It consists 
of a tale in prose concerning a King of Lochlin and the Heroes of 
Fingal : An Address to Gaul, the son of Morni, beginning — 

Goll mear mileant — 
Ceap na Crodliachta — 

An Elegy on one of the earls of A rgyle, beginning— 

A Mhic Cailin a chosg lochd ; 
and a poem in praise of a young lady. 

• Appendix, uf svpra, No. xix. 


4. A small octavo paper MS. from the same collection, written by 
Eamonn or Edmond Mac Lachlan, 1634-5. This consists of a mis- 
cellaneous collection of sonnets, odes, and poetical epistles, partly 
Scots, and partly Irish. There is an Ogham or alphabet of secret 
writing near the end of it. 

5. A quarto paper MS. from same collection. It wants ninety 
pages at the beginning, and part of the end. What remains consists 
of some ancient and modern tales and poems. The names of the au- 
thors are not given, but an older MS. (that of the Dean of Lismore) 
ascribes one of the poems to Conal, son of Edirskeol. This MS. was 
written at Aird-Chonail upon Lochowe, in the years 1690 and 1691, 
by Ewan Mac Lean for Colin Campbell. " Caillain Caimpbel leis in leis 
in leabharan. 1. Caillin mac Dhonchai mhic Dhughil mhic Chaillain 
oig." Colin Campbell is the owner of this book, namely Colin, son of 
Duncan, son of Dougal, son of Colin the younger. The above Gaelic 
inscription appears on the 79th leaf of the MS. 

6. A quarto paper MS., which belonged to the Rev. James Mac- 
Gregor, Dean of Lismore, the metropolitan church of the see of Ar- 
gyle, dated, page 27, 1512, written by Duncan the son of Dougal, son 
of Ewen the Grizzled. This MS. consists of a large collection of 
Gaelic poetry, upwards of 11,000 verses. It is said to have been 
written " out of the books of the History of the Kings." Part of the 
MS., however, which closes an obituary, commencing in 1077, of the 
kings of Scotland, and other eminent persons of Scotland, particularly 
of the shires of Argyle and Perth, was not written till 1527. The 
poetical pieces are from the times of the most ancient bards down to the 
beginning of the sixteenth century. The more ancient pieces are 
poems of Conal, son of Edirskeol, Ossian, son of Fingal, Fearghas Fili 
(Fergus the bard), and Caoilt, son of Ronan, the friends and contem- 
poraries of Ossian. This collection also contains the works of Sir Dun- 
can Campbell of Glenurchay, who fell in the battle of Flodden, and 
Lady Isabel Campbell, daughter of the earl of Argyle, and wife of Gil- 
bert, earl of Cassilis.* " The writer of this MS. (says Dr Smith) re- 
jected the ancient character for the current hand-writing of the time, 
and adopted a new mode of spelling conformable to the Latin and Eng- 
lish sounds of his own age and country, but retained the aspirate mark 
(')... The Welsh had long before made a similar change in their 
ancient orthography. Mr Edward Lhuyd recommended it, with some 
variation, in a letter to the Scots and Irish, prefixed to his Dictionary 
of their language in the Archseologia Britannica. The bishop of Sodor 
and Man observed it in the devotional exercises, admonition, and cate- 
chism, which he published for the use of his diocese. It was continued 
in the Manx translation of the Scriptures, and it has lately been adopt- 
ed by Dr Reilly, titular Primate of Ireland, in his Tagasg Kreesty, 

* Kt'purt of ihe Iliglil;ind Society un Ossian, p. [Y.i, 


or Christian Doctrine. But yet it must be acknowledged to be much 
inferior to the ancient mode of orthography, which has not only the 
advantage of being grounded on a knowledge of the principles of gram- 
mar, and philosophy of language, but of being also more plain and 
easy. This volume of the Dean's is curious, as distinguishing the ge- 
nuine poetry of Ossian from the imitations made of it by later bards, 
and as ascertaining the degree of accuracy with which ancient poems 
have been transmitted by tradition for the last three hundred years, 
during a century of which the order of bards has been extinct, and an- 
cient manners aad customs have suffered a great and rapid change in 
the Highlands."* A^ac simile of the writing is given in the Report of 
the Committee of the Highland Society, plate iii. No. 5. 

7. A quarto paper MS. written in a very beautiful regular handr 
without date or the name of the writer. It is supposed to be at least 
two hundred years old, and consists of a number of ancient tales and 
short poems. These appear to be transcribed from a much older MS. 
as there is a vocabulary of ancient words in the middle of the MS. 
Some of the poetry is ascribed to Cuchulin. 

8. Another quarto paper MS. the beginning and end of which have 
been lost. It consists partly of prose, partly of poetry. With the ex- 
ception of two loose leaves, which appear much older, the whole appears 
to have been written in the 17th century. The poetry, though ancient, 
is not Fingalian. The name, Tadg Og CC, before one of the poems 
near the end, is the only one to be seen upon it. 

9. A quarto parchment MS. consisting of 42 leaves, wTitten by 
different hands, with illuminated capitals. It appears at one time to 
have consisted of four different MSS. bound together and covered with 
skin, to preserve them. This MS. is very ancient and beautiful, though 
much soiled. In this collection is a life of St Columba, supposed, from 
the character, (being similar to No. 27,) to be of the twelfth or thir- 
teenth century. 

10. A quarto parchment medical MS. beautifully written. No date 
or name, but the MS. appears to be very ancient. 

11. A quarto paper MS. partly prose partly verse, written in a very 
coarse and indifferent hand. No date or name. 

12. A small quarto MS. coarse. Bears date 1G47, without name. 

13. A small long octavo paper MS. the beginning and end lost, and 
without any date. It is supposed to have been written by the Macvurichs 
of the fifteenth century. Two of the poems are ascribed to Tadg Mac 
Daire Bruaidheadh, others to Brian O'Donalan. 

14. A large folio parchment MS. in two columns, containing a tale 
upon Cuchullin and Conal, two of Ossian's heroes. Without date or 
name, and very ancient. 

15 A large quarto parchment of 7^ leaves, supposed by Mr Astlf, 

• Appendix to the Highland Society's Report, p. 300—1. 


author of the work on the origin and progress of writing, to be of 
the ninth or tenth century. Its title is Emanuel^ a name commonly 
given by the old Gaelic writers to many of their miscellaneous writ- 
ings. Engraved specimens of this MS. are to be seen in the first edi- 
tion of Mr Astle's work above-mentioned, 18th plate, Nos. 1 and 2, and 
in his second edition, plate 22. Some of the capitals in the MS. are 
painted red. It is written in a strong beautiful hand, in the same char- 
acter as the rest. This MS. is only the fragment of a large work on 
ancient history, written on the authority of Greek and Roman writers, 
and interspersed with notices of the arts, armour, dress, superstitions, 
manners, and usages, of the Scots of the author's own time. In this 
MS. there is a chapter titled, *' Slogha Chesair an Inis Bhreatan" or 
Caesars expedition to the island of Britain, in which Lechliriy a country 
celebrated in the ancient poems and tales of the Gael, is mentioned as 
separated from Gaul by " the clear current of the Rhine." Dr Donald 
Smith had a complete copy of this work. 

16. A small octavo parchment MS. consisting of a tale in prose, im- 
perfect. Supposed to be nearly as old as the last mentioned MS. 

17. A small octavo paper MS. stitched, imperfect ; written by the 
Macvurichs. It begins with a poem upon Darthula, different from Mac- 
pherson's, and contains poems written by Cathal and Nial Mor Macvu- 
rich, (whose names appear at the beginning of some of the poems,) com- 
posed in the reign of King James the Fifth, Mary, and King Charles the 
First. It also contains some Ossianic poems, such as Cnoc an air, &c. 
\. e. The Hill of Slaughter, supposed to be part of Macpherson's Fingal. 
It is the story of a woman who came walking alone to the Fingalians 
for protection from Taile, who was in pursuit of her. Taile fought them, 
■ind was killed by Oscar. There was another copy of this poem in 
Clanranald's little book — not the Red book, as erroneously supposed by 
Laing. The Highland Society are also in possession of several copies 
taken from oral tradition. The second Ossianic poem in this MS. be- 
gins thus : 

Se la gus an de 

O nach fhaca mi fein Fionn. 

It is now six days yesterday 
Since I have not seen Fingal. 

18. An octavo paper MS. consisting chiefly of poetry, but very much 
defaced. Supposed to have been written by the last of the Macvurichs, 
but without date. The names of Tadg Og and Lauchlan Mac Taidg 
occur upon it. It is supposed to have been copied from a more an- 
cient MS. as the poetry is good. 

19. A very small octavo MS. written by some of the Macvurichs. 
Part of it is a copy of Clanranald's book, and contains the genealogy of 
the Lords of the Isles and others of that great clan. The second part 


eonsists of a genealogy ot the kings of Ireland (ancestors of the Macdo 
nalds) from Scota and Gathelie. The last date upon it is 1616. 

20. A paper MS., consisting of a genealogy of the kings of Ireland, 
of a few leaves only, and without date. 

21. A paper MS. consisting of detached leaves of different sizes, and 
containing, 1» The conclusion of a Gaelic chronicle of the kings of Scot- 
land down to King Robert III.; 2. A Fingalian tale, in which the he- 
roes are Fingal, Goll Mac Morni, Oscar, Ossian, and Conan ; 3. A poem 
by Macdonald of Benbecula, dated 1722, upon the unwritten part of a 
letter sent to Donald Macvurich of Stialgary ; 4. A poem by Donald 
Mackenzie; 5. Another by Tadg Og CC, copied from some other MS. 
6. A poem by Donald Macvurich upon Ronald Macdonald of Clanran- 
ald. Besides several hymns by Tadg, and other poems by the Macvu- 
richs and others. 

22. A paper MS., consisting of religious tracts and genealogy, without 
name or date. 

23. A paper MS., containing instruction for children in Gaelic and 
English. Modern, and without date. 

24. Fragments of a paper MS., with the name of Cathelus Macvurich 
upon some of the leaves, and Niall Macvurich upon some others. Conn 
Mac an Deirg^ a well known ancient poem, is written in the Roman 
character by the last Niall Macvurich, the last Highland bard, and is 
the only one among all the Gaelic MSS. in that character. 

With the exception of the first five numbers, all the before mentioned 
MSS. were presented by the Highland Society of London to the High- 
land Society of Scotland in January, 1803, on the application of the 
committee appointed to inquire into the nature and authenticity of the 
poems of Ossian, All these MSS. (with the single exception of the 
dean of Lisraore's volume,) are written in the very ancient form of 
character which was common of old to Britain and Ireland, and supposed 
to have been adopted by the Saxons at the time of their conversion to 
Christianity. This form of writing has been discontinued for nearly 
eighty years in Scotland, as the last specimen which the Highland So- 
ciety of Scotland received of it consists of a volume of songs, supposed 
to have been written between the years 1752 and 1768, as it contains a 
song written by Duncan Macintyre, titled. An Taileir Mac Neachdahiy 
which he composed the former year, the first edition of Macintyre*3 
songs having been published during the latter year.* 

25. Besides these, the society possesses a collection of MS. Gaelic 
poems made by Mr Duncan Kennedy, formerly schoolmaster at Craig- 
nish in Argyleshire, in three thin folio volumes. Two of them are 
written out fair from the various poems he had collected about sixty 
years ago. This collection consists of the following poems, viz. Luach- 
air Leothaid, Sgiathan mac Sgairbh, An Gruagach, Rochd, Sithallan, 

* Report on Ossian, Appendix, p. 312. 


Mur Bheura, Tiomban, Sealg na Cluana, Gleanncruadhach, Uiniigh 
Oisein, Earragan, (resembling Macplierson's Battle of Lora,) Manus, 
Maire Borb, (Maid of Craca,) Cath Sisear, Sliabh nam Beann Sioiin, 
Bas Dheirg, Bas Chuinn, Righ Liur, Sealg na Leana, Dun an Oir, An 
Cu dubh, Gleann Diamhair, Conal, Bas Chiuinlaich Diarmad, Carril, 
Bas Ghuill (different from the Death of Gaul published b}'^ Dr Smith,) 
Garaibh, Bas Oscair, (part of which is the same narrative with the open- 
ing of Macpherson's Temora^ in three parts; Tuiridh nam Fian, and Bas 
Osein. To each of these poems Kennedy has prefixed a dissertation con- 
taining some account of the Sgealachd^ story, or argument of the poem 
which is to follow. It was very common for the reciter, or history-man, 
as he was termed in the Highlands, to repeat the Sgealachds to his hearers 
before reciting the poems to which they related. Several of the poems 
in this collection correspond pretty nearly with the ancient MS. above 
mentioned, which belonged to the dean of Lismore.* 

26. A paper, medical, MS. in the old Gaelic character, a thick vo- 
lume, written by Angus Conacher at Ardconel, Lochow-side, Argyle- 
shire, 1612, presented to the Highland Society of Scotland by the late 
William Macdonald, Esq. of St Martins, W.S. 

27. A beautiful parchment MS., greatly mutilated, in the same char- 
acter, presented to the society by the late Lord Bannatyne, one of the 
judges of the Court of Session. The supposed date upon the cover is 
1238, is written in black letter, but it is in a comparatively modern 
hand. " Gleann Masain an cuige la deag do an . . . Mh : : : do bhlian 
ar tsaoirse Mile da chead, trichid sa hocht." That is, Glen-Masan, the 
15th day of the . . . of M : : : of the year of our Redemption, 1238. 
It is supposed that the date has been taken from the MS. when in a 
more entire state. Glenmasan, where it was written, is a valley in the 
district of Cowal. From a note on the margin of the 15th leaf, it 
would appear to have formerly belonged to the Rev. William Campbell, 
minister of Kilchrenan and Dalavich, and a native of Cowal, and to 
whom Dr D. Smith supposes it may, perhaps, have descended from his 
grand-uncle, Mr Robert Campbell, in Cowal, an accomplished scholar 
and poet, who wrote the eighth address prefixed to Lhuyd's Archceologia. 

The MS. consists of some mutilated tales in prose, interspersed with 
verse, one of which is part of the poem of " Clan Uisneachan," called by 
Macpherson Darthula, from the lady who makes the principal figure in 
it. The name of this lady in Gaelic is Deirdir, or Dearduil. A fac 
simile of the writing is given in the appendix to the Highland society's 
Report on Ossian. Plate iii. No. 4. 

28. A paper MS. in the same character, consisting of an ancient 
tale in prose, presented to the society by Mr Norman Macleod, son of 
the Rev. Mr Macleod, of Morven. 

29. A small paper MS. in the same character, on religion. 

• Report on Ossian, pp. 108-9. 

I. " i 


30. A paper MS. in the same character, presented to the Highland 
Society by James Grant, Esquire of Corymony. It consists of the 
history of the wars of CuchuUin, in prose and verse. This MS. is 
much worn at the ends and edges. It formerly belonged to Mr Grant's 
mother, said to have been an excellent Gaelic scholar. 


1. A beautiful medical MS. with the other MSS. formerly belonging 
to the collection. The title of the different articles are in Latin, as are 
all the medical Gaelic MSS., being translations from Galen and other 
ancient physicians. The capital letters are flourished and painted red. 

2. A thick folio paper MS., medical, written by Duncan Conacher, 
at DunoUie, Argyleshire, 1511. 

3. A folio parchment MS. consisting of ancient Scottish and Irish 
history, very old. 

4. A folio parchment medical MS. beautifully written. It is older 
than the other medical MSS. 

5. A folio parchment medical MS. of equal beauty with the last. 

6. A folio parchment MS. upon the same subject, and nearly of the 
same age with the former. 

7. A folio parchment, partly religious, partly medical. 

8. A folio parchment MS. consisting of the Histories of Scotland 
and Ireland, much damaged. 

9. A folio parchment medical MS., very old. 

10. A folio parchment MS. Irish history and poetry. 

11. A quarto parchment MS., very old. 

12. A long duodecimo parchment MS. consisting of hymns and 
maxims. It is a very beautiful MS. and may be as old as the time of 
St Columba. 

13. A duodecimo parchment MS. much damaged and illegible. 

14. A duodecimo parchment MS. consisting of poetry, but not Os- 
sianic. Hardly legible. 

15. A duodecimo parchment MS. much injured by vermin. It con- 
sists of a miscellaneous collection of history and poetry. 

16. A duodecimo parchment MS. in large beautiful letter, very old 
and difficult to be understood. 

17. A folio parchment MS. consisting of the genealogies of the Mac- 
donalds, Macniels, Macdougals, Maclauchlans, &c. 

All these MSS. are written in the old Gaelic character, and with the 
exception of No. 2., have neither date nor name attached to them. 

Besides those enumerated, there are, it is believed, many ancient 
Gaelic MSS. existing in private libraries. The following are known : 

A Deed of Fosterage between Sir Norman Macleod of Bernera, 


and John Mackenzie, executed in the year 1640. This circumstance 
shows that the Gaelic language was in use in legal obligations at that 
period, in the Highlands. This MS. was in the possession of the late 
Lord Bannatyne. 

A variety of parchment MSS. on medicine, in the Gaelic charac- 
ter, formerly in the possession of the late Dr Donald Smith. He was 
also possessed of a complete copy of the Emanuel MS. before men- 
tioned, and of copies of many other MSS., which he made at different 
times from other MSS. 

Two paper MS. Gaelic grammars, in the same character, formerly in 
the possession of the late Dr Wright of Edinburgh. 

Two ancient parchment MSS- in the same character, formerly in 
the possession of the late Rev. James Maclagan, at Blair- Athole. Sub- 
ject unknown. 

A paper MS. written in the Roman character, in the possession 
of Mr Mathison of Feernaig, Ross-shire^ It is dated in 1688, and con- 
sists of songs and hymns by different persons, some by Carswell, bishop 
of the isles. 

A paper MS. formerly in the possession of a Mr Simpson in Leith. 

The Lillium Medecinge, a paper folio MS. written and translated 
by one of the Bethunes, the physicians of Skye, at the foot of Mount 
Peliop. It was given to the Antiquarian Society of London by the late 
Dr Macqueen of Kilmore, in Skye. 

Two treatises, one on astronomy, the other on medicine, written in 
the latter end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century, 
formerly in the possession of Mr Astle. 



Tlyeo volumes MS. in the old character, chiefly medical, with some 
fragments of Scottish and Irish history ; and the life of St Columbajsaitl 
to have been translated from the Latin into Gaelic, by Father Calohv 


A MS. volume (No. 6280) containing twenty-one Gaelic or Irish 
treatises, of which Mr Astle has given some account. One of these 
treats of the Irish militia, under Fion Maccumhail, in the reign of 
Cormac-Mac-Airt, king of Ireland, and of the course of probation or 
exercise which each soldier was to go through before his admission 
therein. Mr Astle has given a fac. simile of the writing, being the 
thirteenth specimen of Plate xxii. 


An old Irish MS. on parchment, containing, among other tracts. An 
account of the Conquest of Britain by the Romans : — Of the Saxon 


Conquest and their Heptarchy : — An account of the Irish Saints, in 
versej written in the tenth century : — The Saints of the Roman Breviary: 
— An account of the conversion of the Irish and English to Christianity, 
with some other subjects. Laud. F. 92. This book, as is common in 
old Irish manuscripts, has here and there some Latin notes intermixed 
with Irish, and may possibly contain some hints of the doctrines of the 

An old vellum MS. of 140 pages, in the form of a music book, con- 
taining the works of St Columba, in verse, with some account of his 
own life ; his exhortations to princes and his prophecies. Laud. D. 17. 

A chronological history of Ireland, by Jeffrey Keating, D.D. 

Among the Clarendon MSS. at Oxford^ are — 

Annales Ultonienses, sic dicti quod precipue contineant res gestas 
Ultoniensium. Codex antiquissimus caractere Hibernico scriptus ; sed 
sermone, partim Hibernico, partim Latino. Fol membr. The 16th 
and 17th specimens in Plate xxii. of Astle's work, are taken from this 
MS. which is numbered 31 of Dr Rawlinson's MSS. 

Annales Tigernaci, (Erenaci, ut opiniatur Waroeus Clonmanaisensis. 
Vid. Annal. Ulton. ad an. 1088), mutili in initio et alibi. Liber char- 
actere et lingua Hibernicis scriptus. Memb. 

These annals, which are written in the old Irish character, were ori- 
ginally collected by Sir James Ware, and came into the possession suc- 
cessively of the earl of Clarendon, the duke of Chandos, and of Dr 

Miscellanea de Rebus Hibernicis, metrice. Lingua partim Latina, 
partim Hibernica; collecta per Q^ngusium O'Colode (forte Colidium). 
Hie liber vulgo Psalter Narran appellator. 

Elegiae Hibernicae in Obitus quorundam Nobilium fo. 50. 

Notae qusedam Philosophicae, partim Latine, partim Hibernice, 
Characteribus Hibernicis, fo. 69. Membr. 

Anonymi cujusdam Tractatus de varies apud Hibernos veteres oe- 
cultis scribendi Formulis, Hibernice Ogum dictis. 

Finlcachi O Catalai Gigantomachia (vel potius Acta Finni Mac Cull, 
cum Proelio de Fintra,) Hibernice. Colloquia quaadam de Rebus Hi- 
bernicis in quibus colloquentes introducuntur S. Patricius, Coillius, et 
Ossenus Hibernice f. 12. Leges Ecclesiasticaj Hibernice f. 53. Membr. 

Vitae Sanctorum Hibernicorum, per Magnum sive Mauum, filium 
Hugonis O'Donnel, Hibernige descriptse. An. 1532, Fol. Membr. 

Calieni Proplictiae, in Lingua Hibernica. Ejusdem libri exemplar 
extat in Bibl. Cotton, f. 22. b. 

Extracto ex Libro Killensi, Lingua Hibernica, f. 39. 

Historica quacdam, Hibernice, ab An. 1309 ad An. 1317, f. 231. 

A Book of Irish Poetry, f. 16. 

Tractatus de Scriptoribus Hibernicis. 

Dr Keating's History uf Ireland. 


Irish MSS, in Trinity College ^ Dublin : — 

Extracto ex Libro de Kells Hibernice. 

A book in Irish, treating, — 1. Of the Building of Babel. 2. Of 
Grammar. 3. Of Physic. 4. Of Chirurgery. Fol. D. 10. 

A book containing several ancient historical matters, especially of the 
coming of Milesius out of Spain. B. 35. 

The book of Balimor, containing, — 1. The Genealogies of all the 
ancient Families in Ireland. 2. The Uracept, or a book for the edu- 
cation of youth, written by K. Comfoilus Sapiens. 3. The Ogma, or 
Art of Writing in characters. 4. The History of the Wars of Troy, 
with other historical matters contained in the book of Lecane, D. 18. 
The book of Lecane, alias Sligo, contains the following treatises: — 1. 
A treatise of Ireland and its divisions into provinces, with the history 
of the Irish kings and sovereigns, answerable to the general history ; but 
nine leaves are wanting. 2. How the race of Milesius came into Ire- 
land, and of their adventures since Moses's passing through the Red 
Sea. 3. Of the descent and years of the ancient fathers. 4. A cata- 
logue of the kings of Ireland in verse. 5. The maternal genealogies and 
degrees of the Irish saints. 6. The genealogies of our Lady, Joseph, 
and several other saints mentioned in the Scripture. 7. An alphabetic 
catalogue of Irish saints. 8. The sacred antiquity of the Irish saints 
in verse. 9. Cormac's life. 10. Several transactions of the monarchs 
of Ireland and their provincial kings. 11. The history of Eogain M'or, 
Knight; as also of his children and posterity. 12. O'Neil's pedigree. 
13. Several battles of the Sept of Cinet Ogen, or tribe of Owen, from 
Owen Mac Neile Mac Donnoch. 14. Manne, the son of King Neal, of 
the nine hostages and his family. 15. Fiacha, the son of Mac Neil and 
his Sept. 16. Leogarius, son of Nelus Magnus, and his tribe. 17. 
The Connaught book. 18. The book of Fiatrach. 19. The book of 
Uriel. 20. The Leinster book. 21. The descent of the Fochards, or 
the Nolans. 22. The descent of those of Leix, or the O'Mores. 23. 
The descent of Decyes of Munster, or the Ophelans. 24. The coming 
of Muscrey to Moybreagh. 25. A commentary upon the antiquity of 
Albany, now called Scotland. 26. The descent of some Septs of the 
Irish, different from those of the most known sort, that is, of the pos- 
terity of Lugadh Frith. 27. The Ulster book. 28. The British book. 
29. The Uracept, or a book for the education of youth, written by K. 
Comfoilus Sapiens. 30. The genealogies of St Patrick and other saints, 
as also an etymology of the hard words in the said treatise. 31. A 
treatise of several prophecies. 32. The lav/s, customs, exploits, and 
tributes of the Irish kings and provincials. 33. A treatise of Eva, and 
the famous women of ancient times. 34. A poem that treats of Adam 
and his posterity. 35. The Munster book. 36. A book containino- 
the etymology of all the names of the chief territories and notable places 
in Ireland.. 37 Of the sevcrul invasions of Clan-Partholan, Clan-nai]- 


vies, Firbolhg, Tu'atha de Danaan, and the Milesians into Ireland. 38. 
A treatise of the most considerable men in Ireland, from the time of 
Leogarius the son of Nelus Magnus, alias Neale of the nine hostages 
in the time of Roderic O'Conner, monarch of Ireland, fol. parchment, 
D. 19. 

De Chirurgia. De Infirmitatibus Corporis humane, Hibernice. f. 
Membr. C. 1. 

Excerpta quaedam de antiquitatibus Incolarum, Dublin ex libris 
Bellemorensi et Sligantino, Hibernice. 

Hymni in iaudem B. Patricii, Brigidae et Columbiae, Hibern. ple- 
rumque. Invocationes Apostolorum et SS. cum not. Hibern. interlin. 
et margin. Orationes quaedam excerptae ex Psalmis ; partim Latine, 
partim Hibernice, fol. Membr. I. 125. 

Opera Galeni et Hippocratis de Chirurgia, Hibernice, fol. Membr. 
C. '^9. 

A book of Postils in Irish, fol. Membr. D. 24. 

Certain prayers, with the argument of the four Gospels and the 
Acts, in Irish, (10.) Tiechi Slebthiensis, Hymnus in Iaudem S. Patri- 
cii, Hibernice, (12.) A hymn on St Bridget, in Irish, made by Colum- 
kill in the time of Eda Mac Ainmireck, cum Regibus Hibern. et suc- 
cess. S. Patricii (14.) Sanctani Plymnus. Hibern. 

Reverendissimi D. Bedelli Translatio Hibernica S. Bibliorum. 






2. Mackays. 

3. SuTHERLANDS, including the Gunns, or Clan-Guinn 

4. Rosses ; formerly, when the chiefs of this clan were Earls of Ross, they 

possessed a large portion of the county. 


6. Mackenzies, including their ancient followers, the Macraes, Maclen- 

NANS, &c. 

7. MACLEODS This clan formerly possessed the Island of Lewis, and the 

district of Assynt, in the county of Ross. 

8. Macdonalds of Sleate. 

9. MacKinnons. 

10. Macdonnells of Glengarry. 

11. Macdonald of Clanronald.* 

12. Camerons. 

13. Macdonells of Keppoch. 

14. Macphersons. 

15. Erasers. 

16. Grant of Glenmoriston 

17. Chisholms. 

18. Mackintoshes, including the Macgillivrays, Macbeans, and Macqueens. 

19. Grants of Grant. 

20. Gordons. In Glenlivet, and in the Braes of Moray, Banff, and Aberdeen, 

the Gordons, Stewarts, and Forbeses, are so intermixed, that their 
lands cannot be separately classed. 

21. Farquharsons. 

22. Stewarts of Athole, including the Robertsons, Fergusons, Rattrays, 

Spaldings: also the Stewarts of Grandtully. 

23. Robertsons. 

• Although the chieftains of Macdonald are separately numbered, agreeably to Presi- 
dent Forbes's Memorial, they form only one clan. The branches of the Stewart family 
are likewise numbered separately, although they are but one clan. This applies to other 
clans when the name is repeated. 



24. Menzies. It has been mentioRed that Gienquaich, and other parts of the 

estate of Breadalbane, were the property of this clan. They have also 
been for a long period superioi-s of part of Glenlyon. The Mac- 
DiARMiDs in the latter glen are considered one of the most ancient names 
in the Highlands. 

25. Macnabs. 

26. Macgregors. This clan was once numerous in Balquhidder and Mon- 

teith, also in Glenorchy, and they are still in great numbers in the dis- 
trict of Fearnan, on the north side of Loch Tay, — on the south side of 
Glenlyon, —in Fortingal, — and on the north side cf Loch Rannoch. 

27. In Monteith and Strathearn, the Grahams, Stewarts, and Drummonds, 

are intermixed in the same manner as the landholders and tenants in the 
Braes of Banff and Aberdeen. 

28. Buchanans. The lands of this clan formerly extended eastvrard to Kip- 

pen, in Stirlingshire. 

29. Macfarlanes. 

30. colquhouns. 

31. Stuarts of Bute. 

32. Lamonts. This family formerly held considerable superiorities in Knap- 

dale and Cowal. 

33. Maclachlans. The superiorities of this clan were also more extensive. 

34. Macnaughtons. 

35. Campbells. The property of the chief, chieftains, and gentlemen of this 

clan, extends from the south point of Kintyre, in Argj'leshire, to the 
district of Grandtully, in Perthshire, two miles below Tay-bridge. The 
Lamonts, Maclachlans, Macnabs, and others, are occasionally inter- 
mixed, but their lands bear a small proportion to the great tract of 
country possessed or occupied by the clan Campbell. The extent of 
the Marquis of Breadalbane's property will be seen by glancing over the 
Map, from the Island of Eisdale, in Argjleshire, to Grandtully castle. 

36. Macdougalls. The lands occupied by this clan are so scattered, that, ex- 

cept the estate of the chief, and two others in his immediate neighbour- 
hood, they cannot be distinguished. The Macdougalls once possessed 
the whole of the district of Lorn. These countries were afterwards 
transferred to the Stewart family, and from them by marriage, to the 

37. Macdonalds of Glenco 

38. Stewarts of Appin. 

39. Macleans, including the Macquarries. Morven on the Mainland, and 

part of the Isle of Mull, now tne property of the Duke of Argyle, was 
formerly the inheritance of this clan. 

40. Macneils of Barra. 



Or the Aboriginal Tribes of North Britain at the period of Agricola's invasion — Their 
names and topographical positions — State of civilization — Religion — Modes of sepulture 
— Barrows, Cairns, Cistvaens and Urns— War weapons — Canoes and Currachs — 
Invasion and Campaigns of Agricola — Battle of the Grampians — Recal and death of 
Agricola — Succeeded by Lollius Urbicus — Wall of Antoninus — Roman Iter through 
the North — Roman highways, and stations or forts — Campaign of Severus — The Picts. 
Scots, and Attacots — Roman abdication of North Britain. 

When Agricola invaded North Britain in the year eighty-one of the 
Christian era, it appears to have been possessed by twenty-one tribes of 
aboriginal Britons, having little or no political connexion with one 
another, although evidently the same people in origin, speaking the 
same language, and following the same customs. The topographical 
position of these Caledonian tribes or clans at the epoch in question, 
may be thus stated : 

Fii*st, The Ottadini or Otadeni, occupied the south-east boundary of 
North Britain, extending along the whole line of coast from the southern 
Tyne to the Frith of Forth, and including the half of Northumberland, 
the eastern part of Roxburghshire, the whole of Berwickshire and of 
East Lothian. They had two towns, both south of the Tweed, called 
Curia,* supposed to have been situated in Roxburghshire, and JBremeni" 
urn, understood to be Rochester on Reedwater in Northumberland. The 
latter was the chief town. Antiquaries conclude that this tribe derives 
its name from the river Tyne, which formed their boundary on the 
south, because the name in British denotes the people living beyond 
or out from the Tyne. 

Second, The Gadeni inhabited the interior country on the west of 
the Ottadini including the western part of Northumberland ; a small 
pai't of Cumberland, lying to the north of Irthing river ; the western 
part of Roxburghshire, the whole of Selkirk, Tweeddale ; a consider- 
able part of Mid- Lothian, and nearly all West Lothian. Their pos- 
sessions thus extended from the Tyne on the south, to the Frith of 
Forth on the north ; and Curia on the Gore water was their capital. 
Conjecture derives the name of this tribe from the groves with which 
their country abounded. 

* The names of the towns, and of the different tribes are taken from the maps of 
Ptolemy, and Richard of Cirencester, a monk of tlie fourteenth century. 
I. A 


Third, The Selgovce. inhabited Annandale, Nithsdale, and Eskdale 
in Dumfries-shire ; and the eastern part of Galloway to the river Deva, 
or Dee, their western boundary. To the south they were bounded by 
the Solway Frith, or Ituna ^stuarium, Ptolemy mentions their having 
four towns in their territories, namely, Carbantoriguniy supposed to be 
Kircudbright ; Uxelliun^ believed to be Castle Over ; Corda^ the site 
of which cannot be fixed ; and Trimontium said to have lain near the 
Eildon Hills. The name SelogovcB is supposed to be descriptive of 
the country inhabited by this tribe, M'hich was much divided by 

Fourth, The Novantce possessed the middle and western parts of 
Galloway from the Dee on the east, to the Irish sea on the west ; on 
the south they were bounded by the Solway Frith and the Irish sea, 
and on the north by the chain of hills which separates Galloway from 
Carrick. They had two towns, the principal, Leucopihia or Candida 
Casa, on the site of the present Whithorn, and Rerigonium now Stran- 
raer, on the bank of the Rerigonius Sinus, now Loch Ryan. The name 
of this tribe is said to have arisen from the nature of their country, 
which abounded with streams. 

Fifth, The Damnii, the most important of the southern tribes, in- 
habited the whole extent of country from the ridge of hills between 
Galloway and Ayrshire on the south, to the river Ern on the north. 
They possessed all Strathclyde, the shires of Ayr, Renfrew, and Stirl- 
ing, and a small part of the shires of Dumbarton and Perth. According 
to Ptolemy the Damnii had six towns, namely, Vanditaria, at Paisley ; 
Colania, supposed to be Lanark ; Cona, at Carstairs in Eastern 
Clydesdale ; Alauna on the river Allan, believed to be Kier near 
Stirling ; Lindum near Ardoch ; and Victoria, at Dealginross on the 
Ruchil water. 

Sixth, The Horestii inhabited the country between the Bodotria or 
Forth, on the south, and the Tarvus or Tay on the north, comprehend- 
ing the shires of Clackmannan, Kinross and Fife, with the eastern part 
of Strathern, and the country westward of the Tay as far as the river 

Seventh, The Venricoiies possessed the territory between the Tay 
on the south, and the Carron on the north, comprehending Gowrie, 
Strathmore, Stormont, and Strathardle in Perthshire ; with the whole of 
Angus, and the larger part of Kincardineshire. Their chief town was 
Orrea on the Tay. This and the last mentioned tribe were afterwards 
named Vecturiones by the Romans. 

Eightli, The Taixali inhabited the northern part of the Mearns, 
and the whole of Aberdeenshire, as far as the Doveran. The promon- 
tory of Kinnaird's head, the Taixalorum promontoi'ium of tlie Romans, 
was included in this district. Devana, on the northern side of the Dee, 
six miles above its influx into the sea, was their principal town, which 
stood on the site of Normandylies of the present day. 

Nintli, The Vacomagi inhabited the country on the southern si 


of the Moray Frith from the Doveran on the east, to the Ness on the 
west, comprehending the shires of Banff, Elgin, Nairn, the eastern part 
of Inverness, and Braemar in Aberdeenshire. Their towns were the 
Ptoroton of Richard, the Alata Castra of Ptolemy, at the mouth of the 
Varar, where the present Burghead runs into the Moray Frith ; Tuessis 
on the eastern bank of the Spey ; and Tamea and Banatia in the inte- 
rior country. 

Tenth, The Alba7ii, afterwards called Damnii-Albani, on their sub 
jection to the Damnii, possessed the interior districts between the lower 
ridge of the Grampians which skirts the southern side of the loch and 
river Tay, on the south, and the chain of mountains which forms the 
southern limit of Inverness-shire on the north. These districts compre- 
hended Braidalbane, Athole, a small part of Lochaber, with Appin and 
Glenorchy in Upper Lorn. The Albani were so called because they 
possessed a high and mountainous country. 

Eleventh, The Attacotti inhabited the whole country from Loch 
Fyne on the west to the eastward of the river Leven and Loch-Lomond, 
comprehending the whole of Cowal in Argyleshire, and the greater 
part of Dumbartonshii-e. The British word Eithacoeti, which signifies 
men dwelling along the extremity of the wood, appears to indicate 
the derivation of the name of this tribe. 

Twelfth, The Caledonii proper inhabited the whole of the interior 
country from the ridge of mountains which separates Inverness and 
Perth, on the south, to the range of hills which forms the forest of 
Balnagowan in Ross on the north ; comprehending all the middle parts 
of Inverness and of Ross. This territory formed a considerable part 
of. the extensive forest which in early ages, spread over the interior 
and western parts of the country, on the northern side of the Forth 
and Clyde, and to which the British colonists, according to Chalmers, 
gave the descriptive appellation of Celyddon, signifying literally the 
covertSi and generally denoting a wood?/ region. It was on this account 
that the large tribe in question were called Celyddoni^ a name afterwards 
latinized into the more classical appellation of Caledonii. The descrip- 
tive name, Celyddon, restricted originally to the territory described, was 
afterwards extended to the whole country on the northern side of the 
Forth and Clyde, under the latinized appellation of Caledonia. 

Thirteenth, The CantcB possessed the east of Ross-shire from the 
*stuary of Varar or the Moray Frith on the south to the Abona, or 
Dornoch Frith on the north ; having Loxa or Cromarty Frith which 
indented their country in the centre, and a ridge of hills, Vxellum mon- 
tes, on the west. This ridge, of which Ben-Wyvis, one of the highest 
mountains in Great Britain, is the prominent summit, gradually declines 
towards the north-east, and terminates in a promontory, called Pen 
Uxellum, the Tarbetness of modern times. The term Cantce, the name 
of this tribe, is derived from Caint, a British word meaning an open 
country, which the district in question certainly was, when compared 
with the mour,tainous interior and the western districts. 


Fourteenth, The Logi possessed the south-eastern c(>ast of Suther- 
land, extending from the Abona^ or Dornoch Frith, on the south-west, 
to the river Ila on the east. This river is supposed to he the Helms- 
dale river of the Scandinavian intruders, called by the Celtic inhabitants 
Avou-Uile, or Avon-Iligh, the floody water. It is conjectured that this 
tribe derived its name from the British word L^/gif which is applicable 
to a people living on the shore. 

Fifteenth, The Carnabii inhabited the south, the east, and north- 
east of Caithness from the Ila river ; comprehending the three great 
promontories of Vi^ubium or Noss-Head, Virvedrum, or Duncansby- 
Head, and Tarvedrum or the Orcas proniontoriuniy the Dunnet-Head of 
the present times. The Carnabii of Caithness, like those of Cornwall, 
derived their appellation from their residence on remarkable promon- 

Sixteenth, The Catini, a small tribe, inhabited the north-western 
corner of Caithness, and the eastern half of Strathnaver in Sutherland- 
shire ; having the river Naver, the Navari jiuvius of Ptolemy, for their 
western boundary. Various conjectures are hazarded as to the deriva- 
tion of the name of this tribe. Chalmers thinks that it is taken from 
the name of the British weapon called the Cat or Catai, with which 
they fought ; but Sir Robert Gordon supposes it to be derived from the 
Catti of Germany, who are said to have settled in Caithness at an early 
period. Others again say that the tribe derived its name from Cattey^ 
an appellation given to the country which they possessed on account 
of its being infested with a prodigious number of cats. But be that as 
it may, the Gaelic people of Caithness and Sunderland are, according 
to Chalmers, ambitious even at this day, of deriving their distant origin 
from those Catini, or Catai of British times. 

Seventeenth, The Mertce occupied the interior of Sutherland ; and 
this is all that we know of them. 

Eighteenth, The Carnonacce inhabited the northern and western 
coast of Sutherland, and a small part of the western shore of Ross, from 
the Naver on the east, round to the Volsas bay, on the south-west. A 
river called Straba falls into the sea in this district on the west of the 
Naver, and the headland at the turn is named Ebudium promontoriwn. 

Nineteenth, The Creones inhabited the western coast of Ross from 
VolsaS'Sinus on the north to the Itys or Lochduich on the south. They 
are said to have derived their name from their fierceness^ Crewon or 
Creuonwys signifying in British, " men of blood." 

Twentieth, The Cerones inhabited the whole western coast of Inver- 
ness, and the countries of Ardnaraurchan, Morvern, Sunart, and Ard- 
gowar in Argyleshire, having the Itys or Lochduich on the north, and 
the Longus or Linne-Loch on the south. 

Twenty-first, The Epidii inhabited the south-west of Argyleshire 
fiom Linne-Loch on the north, to the Frith of Clyde and the Irish 
sea on the south, including Cantyre, the point of which was called 
the Epidian promontory, now named the Mull of Cantyre ; and they 


were bounded on the east by the country of the Albani, and the Lela* 
nonius Sinus or the Lochfine of the present day. The name of this 
tribe is derived from the British JEbyd, a peninsula, as they chiefly 
inhabited the promontory of Cantyre. 

Such, according to the most authentic accounts that can be obtained, 
were the names and topographical positions of the twenty-one tribes 
which at the time of the Roman invasion occupied the whole of North 
Britain; a country at that time without agriculture, studded with bogs 
and covered with woods almost in the state in which it had been formed 
by nature. 

We have enumerated the whole of the North British tribes in order to 
make our narrative the more intelligible ; but our researches and details, 
except where the subject shall render reference to all of them necessary, 
shall be confined to the thirteen last mentioned, inhabiting the tract of 
country known by the name of the Highlands of Scotland. This cele- 
brated territory is separated from the lowlands of Scotland by the 
Grampians, a lofty chain of mountains running diagonally across the 
kingdom, from the north of the river Don in Aberdeenshire, and ter- 
minating beyond Ardmore in Dumbartonshire. The range in question, 
which consists of rocks of primitive formation, appears at a distance to 
be uninterrupted ; but it is broken by straths and glens. The principal 
straths are on the rivers Leven, Ern, Tay, and Dee ; but besides these 
there are many glens and vallies called Passes, which, till a very late 
period, were almost impassable. The chief of these Passes are Beal- 
macha upon Loch-Lomond; Aberfoyle and Leny in Monteith; the Pass 
of Glenalmond above Crieff; the entrance into Athole at Dunkeld; and 
those formed by the rivers Ardle, Islay, and South and North Esk. 
Immediately within the external boundary of the chain there are also 
many strong and defensible passes, as Killikrankie, the entrances into 
Glenlyon, Glenlochy, Glenogle, &c. The principal mountains of the 
range are Benlomond, Benlawers, and Shichallain. This line of demar- 
cation between the Highlands and Lowlands has kept the inhabitants of 
these two divisions of Scotland so distinct " that for seven centuries," as 
General Stewart observes, " Birnam Hill at the entrance into Athole, 
has formed the boundary between the Lowlands and Highlands, and 
between the Saxon and Gaelic languages. On the southern and eastern 
sides of the hill, breeches are worn, and the Scotch lowland dialect 
spoken, with as broad an accent as in Mid-Lothian. On the northern 
and western sides are found the Gaelic, the kilt and the plaid, with all 
the peculiarities of the Highland character. The Gaelic is universal, 
as the common dialect in use among the people on the Highland side 
of the boundary. This applies to the whole range of the Grampians ; 
as, for example, at General Campbell of Monzie's gate, nothing but 
Scotch is spoken, while at less than a mile distant on the hill to the 
northward, we meet with Gaelic." 

The space which the thirteen last mentioned tribes occupied within 
the mountains comprehended, as we have seen, part of the counties of 


Dumbarton, Stirling, Perth, Angus, Aberdeen, Banff and Moray, and 
the whole counties of Argyle, Bute, Inverness, Nairn, Ross, Cromarty, 
Sutherland and Caithness, and the Hebrides. This boundary may be 
defined by a line commencing at Ardmore in Dumbartonshire, running 
along the southern verge of the Grampians to Aberdeenshire, and 
from thence through Banff and Elgin to the sea shore, cutting off the 
lowland portions in these three districts. This line then skirts the 
shores of the Moray Frith till it reaches the north-eastern point of 
Caithness at the eastern opening of the Pentland Frith ; then proceeds 
along the southorn gide of that Frith sweeping round St. Kilda so as to 
include the whole cluster of islands to the east and south as far as 
Arran ; and then stretching to the Mull of Can tyre it re-enters the 
mainland and ends at Ardmore in Dumbartonshire. 

The maritime outline of this boundary, particularly on the north and 
west, is remarkably bold and rocky, and the mainland is deeply indented 
by bays and arms of the sea. The interior of the country within the 
Grampian range is grand and picturesque. Lofty mountains whose 
summits are seldom to be distinguished from the mists or clouds which 
envelope them, steep and tremendous precipices, and glens watered by 
mountain streams or diversified by winding lakes, and occasional 
sprinklings of beautiful woods, impress the mind of the traveller with 
just ideas of the sublime and beautiful as displayed by the hand of 
nature in that romantic and poetical region. But no where is the wild 
and magnificent scenery of the Highlands seen to greater advantage 
than from the summits of Benlomond, Benlawers and the other ele- 
vated points of the Grampians. These mountains like the rest are often 
either covered with clouds or skirted with mists. Of a bleak and bar- 
ren aspect, and furrowed by channels deep and rocky, their summits 
present scarcely any appearances of vegetation, but a thin covering of 
stunted heath, the residence only of birds of prey or of the white hare 
and ptarmigan, is to be found a little lower down. Below this inhos- 
pitable region the mountain deer and moor-fowl have fixed their abode 
among more luxuriant heath, interspersed with nourishing pasture on 
which feed numerous flocks of sheep. The romantic glens at the 
base of these mountains are well peopled, and contain a vast number of 
flocks and herds wliich form the staple wealth of tlie country. 

Although the people of Caledonia were certainly in a higher state of 
civilization than that described by Dio and afterwards by Herodian, 
it must be admitted that they knew little of the arts of social life and 
had advanced but few stages beyond the savage state. Their division 
into tribes or clans engendered a spirit of reciprocal hostility which 
prevented any political union or amalgamation of their common interests; 
and it was only when a foreign foe threatened their existence that a 
sense of danger forced them to unite for a time under the military 
aiithority of a Pendragon or chief elected by common consent. Their 
subjugation therefore by the Romans under Agricola, as far as that 
victorious commander pushed his conquests, is not to be wondered 


Bt. The disunion of the British tribes as favouring the Roman armg is 
indeed acknowledged by Tacitus. " There was one thing," says that his- 
torian, " which gave us an advantage over these powerful nations, that 
tliey never consulted together for the advantage of the whole. It was 
rare that even two or three of them united against the common enemy.* 
A people so unhappily circumstanced could neither appreciate the bless- 
ings of peace nor have any desire to enjoy them. Hence they carried 
on a predatory system of warfare, congenial to their rude state of 
existence, which retarded their advancement in civilization. Their 
whole means of subsistence consisted in the milk and flesh of their flocks 
and the produce of the cliace. The piscatory treasures with which the 
rivers and waters of Caledonia abound appear to have been but little 
known to them ; a thing not to be wondered at when it is considered 
that the druidical superstition proscribed the use of fish. Their dislike 
to this species of food continued long after the system of the Druids 
had disappeared ; and they did not abandon this prejudice till the light 
of Christianity was diffused among them. They lived in a state almost 
approaching to nudity ; but whether from necessity or from choice can- 
not be satisfactorily determined. Dio indeed represents the Caledo- 
nians as being naked, but Herodian speaks of them as wearing a partial 
covering. Their towns, which were very few, consisted of huts covered 
with turf or skins, and built without order or regularity or any distinc- 
tion of streets. For better security they were erected in the centre of 
some wood or morass, the avenues leading to which were defended 
with ramparts of earth and felled trees. The following is the descrip- 
tion of a British Town as given by Caesar : " What the Britons 
call a town is a tract of woody country, surrounded by a vallum 
and ditch, for the security of themselves and cattle against the incur- 
sions of an enemy ; for, when they have inclosed a very large circuit 
with felled trees, they build within it houses for themselves, and hovels 
for their cattle."* Notwithstanding the scantiness of their covering, 
which left their bodies exposed to the rigours of a cold and variable 
climate, the Caledonians were a remarkably hardy race, capable of 
enduring fatigue, cold, and hunger to an extent which their descendants 
of the present day could not encounter without the risk of life. They 
were decidedly a warlike people, and are said to have been addicted, 
like the heroes of more ancient times, to robbery. The weapons of 
their warfare consisted of small spears, long broadswords, and hand 
daggers ; and they defended their bodies in combat by a small target or 
shield, — all much of the same form and construction as those afterwards 
used by their posterity in more modern times. The use of cavalry 
appears not to have been so well understood among the Caledonians as 
among the more southern tribes ; but in battle they often made use of 
cars, or chariots, which were drawn by horses of a small, swift, and 
spirited description ; and it is conjectured that, like those used by the 

♦ BeUo Gall. n. c. 17 


southern Britons, tliey had iron scythes projecting from the axle. It 
is impossible to say what form of government obtained among these 
warlike tribes. When history is silent historians should either maintain 
a cautious reserve or be sparing in their conjectures ; but analogy may 
supply materials for well grounded speculations, and it may therefore be 
asserted, without any great stretch of imagination, that, like most of the 
other uncivilized tribes we read of in history, the Northern Britons or 
Caledonians, were under the government of a leader or chief to whom 
they yielded a certain degree of obedience. Dio indeed insinuates 
that the governments of these tribes were democratic; but he should have 
been aware that it is only when bodies of men assume, in an advanced 
stage of civilization, a compact and united form that democracy can 
prevail ; and the state of barbarism in which he says the inhabitants of 
North Britain existed at the period in question seems to exclude such a 
supposition. The conjecture of Chalmers that, like the American tribes, 
they were governed under the aristocratic sway of the old men rather 
than the coercion of legal authority, is more probable than that of Dio 
and approximates more to the opinion we have ventured to express. 

It is remarked by Plutarch that in his time it would have been 
easier to have found cities without walls, houses, kings, laws, coins, 
schools and theatres than without temples and sacrifices. The obser- 
vation is just ; for all the migratory tribes which spread themselves over 
the globe after the dispersion of the human race carried along with 
them some recollections of religion. Accordingly the aboriginal inha* 
bitants of Northern Britain brought from the east a system of religion, 
modified and altered no doubt by circumstances in its course through 
different countries. The prevailing opinion is that Druidism was the 
religion followed by all the Celtic colonies ; and in proof of this, refer- 
ence has been made to a variety of druidical monuments abounding 
in all parts of Britain and particularly in the north. An author, Mr. 
Pinkerton, whose asperity, to use the words of Dr. Jamieson, " has 
greatly enfeebled his argument," has attacked this position under the 
shields of Caesar and Tacitus ; but although his reasoning is powerful 
and ingenious he appears to have failed in establishing that these 
monuments are of Gothic origin. As Druidism then may be con- 
sidered as the first religious profession of the ancient Caledonians some 
account of it, as forming a part of their antiquities, may naturally be 
expected in this place. 

That Druidism may have been corrupted by innovation, and may 
have appeared in diff^erent shapes at various periods and in diff^erent 
countries, is a supposition that admits of no doubt ; but there are not 
sufficient data in history to enable the antiquary to trace the various 
shades of dissimilarity which characterized the system in its gradual 
advancement from the east through Europe. The obscurity in whicii 
this system is enveloped is owing to a principle of the Druids which 
forbade them to comriit any part of their theology to writing. As 
tliey liad to trust entirely for every thing to memory, the science of 


mnemonics was cultivated by the youth bred to the Druidicul profes- 
sion, in an extraordinary degree, and many of them spent twenty years 
in storing their minds with the knowledge necessary for one of their 
order. Diogenes Laertius divides the tenets of the Druids into four 
heads. The first was, to worship God; the second, to abstain from 
evil ; the third, to exert courage, and the fourth, to believe in the 
immortality of the soul, for enforcing these virtues. If such were the 
early tenets of the Druids, they must have sadly degenerated in the 
course of time ; for they are quite incompatible with the gross and 
revolting practices related of them by more modern writers. 

Among the objects of druidical veneration the oak was particularly 
distinguished ; for the Druids imagined that there was a supernatural 
virtue in the wood, in the leaves, in the fruit, and above all in the 
missletoe. Hence the oak woods were the first places of their devotion ; 
and the offices of their religion were there performed without any cover- 
ing but the broad canopy of heaven ; for it was a peculiar principle of 
the Druids that no temple or covered building should be erected for 
public worship. The part appropriated for worship was inclosed in a 
circle, within which was placed a pillar of stone set up under an oak 
and sacrifices were offered thereon. The groves, within which the 
mysteries of the druidical superstition were celebrated, were also appro- 
priated for the instruction of the people and the education of youth, 
which was under the sole superintendence of the priests. The pillars 
which mark the sites of these places of worship are still to be seen ; 
and so great is the superstitious veneration paid by the country people 
to those sacred stones, as they are considered, that few persons have 
ventured to remove them, even in cases where their removal would be 
advantageous to the cultivator of the soil.* 

Some writers pretend to have discovered in the system of Druidism 
three distinct orders of priests ; the Druids or chief priests, the Vates, 
and the Bards, who severally performed different fimctions. The 
Bards of course sung in heroic verse the brave actions of those of their 
tribe who had made themselves famous by their warlike exploits ; the 
Vates continually studied and explained the laws and the productions 
of nature ; and the Druids directed the education of youth, officiated in 
the affaii'S of religion, and presided in the administration of justice. 
The latter were exempted from serving in war, and from the payment 
of taxes. The duties above enumerated would seem to imply that the 
Druids were the only order of priests ; and although the Bards and 

* The guildry of Perth, some years ago, proved, that they, at least, were superior to 
this amiable and, it may be, superstitious affection for the relics of the past. On their 
property of Craigmakerran stood a circle of stones familiarly known by the name of 
" Stannin Stanes," as complete and perfect as when the dispensei's of fire to the righte- 
ous assembled within its sacred inclosure ; but they wanted stones to build some offices 
for one of their tenants ; and, as these monolithes lay convenient to their hand, thfi 
corporation Goths had them blasted with gunpowder, and thus utterly destroyed one of 
the noblest monuments "of Britain's elder time." 
I. B 


Vates might eventually rise to the high and honourable dignity of 
Druids the propriety of writing them down as priests of the second and 
third order seems very questionable. Besides the immunities before- 
mentioned enjoyed by the Druids, they also possessed both civil and 
criminal jurisdiction : they decided all controversies among states as 
well as among private persons ; and whoever refused to submit to their 
awards was exposed to the most severe penalties. The sentence of 
excommunication was pronounced against him ; he was forbidden access 
to the sacrifices or public worship ; he was debarred all intercourse 
with his fellow -citizens, even in the common affairs of life ; his company 
was universally shunned as profane and dangerous ; he was refused the 
protection of law ; and death itself became an acceptible relief from the 
misery and infamy to which he was exposed.* " Thus," according to 
Hume, " the bands of government, which were naturally loose among 
that rude and turbulent people, were happily corroborated by the terrors 
of their superstition." 

As connected in some degree with religion the modes of sepulture 
among the Pagan people of North Britain come next to be noticed. 
These have been various in different ages. The original practice of 
interring the bodies of the dead gradually gave way among the Pagan 
nations to that of burning the bodies, but the older practice was resumed 
wherever Christianity obtained a footing. The practice of bm-ning the 
dead at the time we are treating of was common among the inhabitants 
of North Britain ; but the process of inhumation was not always the 
same, being attended with more or less ceremony according to the rank 
of the deceased. Many of the sepulchral remains of our pagan ances- 
tors are still to be seen, and have been distinguished by antiquaries 
under the appellations of Barrows, Cairns, Cistvaens and Urns. 

Among the learned the Barrows and Cairns, when they are of a round 
shape and covered with green sward, are called tumuli, and hillocks by 
the vulgar. These tumuli are circular heaps resembling a flat cone 
and many of them are oblong ridges resembling the hull of a ship 
with its keel upwards. The most of them are composed of stones, 
some of them of earth, many of them of a mixture of earth and stones, and 
a few of them of sand. There is a great distinction however between 
the Barrow and the Cairn ; the first being composed solely of earth, 
and the last of stones. The cairns are more numerous than the bar- 
rows. Some of tliese cairns are very large, being upwards of 300 feet 
in circumference and from 30 to 40 feet in height, and the quantity 
of stones that has been dug from their bowels is almost incredible. 

Many of these tumuli have been subjected from time to time to the 
prying eyes of antiquaries ; and, as their researches are curious, a 
short notice of them may be interesting to the general reader. Witli- 

* The aqum et ignis interdictio of the Roman law, and the letters of intercommuning 
anciently familiar to, but now, happily, unknown in the municipal jurisprudence of o\ir 
native country were punishments evidently traceable to the Druidical times. 


in several tumuli which were opened in the isle of Skye there were 
discovered stone coflfins with urns containing ashes and weapons. 
In a Barrow which was opened in the isle of Egg, there was found 
a large urn, containing human bones, and consisting of a large round 
stone, which had been hollowed, while its top was covered with a 
thin flag-stone. In a large oblong cairn, about a mile west from 
Ardoch, in Perthshire, there was found a stone coffin, containing a 
human skeleton seven feet long. On a moor between the parishes of 
Kintore and Kinellar in Aberdeenshire, there are several sepulchral 
cairns, wherein were found a stone chest, containing a ring of a 
substance, like veined marble, and large enough to take in three 
fingers ; and near this stone chest was discovered an urn, containing 
human hair. A sepulchral cairn, in Bendochy Parish, in Perthshire, 
being opened, there were found in it some ashes, and human bones, 
which had undergone the action of fire ; and lower down, in the same 
cairn, there were discovered two inverted urns, which were large enough 
to contain thigh and leg bones ; and these urns were adorned with rude 
sculpture, but without inscriptions. In the Beauly Frith, which is on 
both sides very shallow, there are at a considerable distance within the 
flood mark, on the coast of Ross-shire several cairns, in one of which 
urns have been found. From these facts it is evident that the sea has 
made great encroachments upon the flat shores of this Frith since tlie 
epoch of the cairns which are now so far within its dominion. One 
of these cairns on the south-east of Redcastle stands four hundred 
yards within the flood mark and is of considerable size. On the south 
side of the same Frith, at some distance from the mouth of the river 
Ness, a considerable space within the flood mark, there is a large cairn 
which is called Carn-aire^ that is, the Cairn in the sea, and to the west- 
ward of this, in the same Frith, there are three other cairns at consider- 
able distances from each other, the largest of which is a huge heap of 
stones, in the middle of the Frith, and is accessible, at low water, and 
appears to have been a sepulchral cairn from the urns which are found 
in it. 

The Cistvaen, which, in the Britishlanguage, signifies literally a stone 
chest, from Cist, a chest, and maen changing in composition to vaen a 
stone, was another mode of interment among the ancient inhabitants ot 
our island. Sometimes the Cistvaen contained the urn within which 
were deposited the ashes of the deceased ; yet it often contained the 
ashes and bones without an urn. But urns of different sizes and shapes 
Jiave been found without cistvaens ; a circumstance which may be owing 
to the fasliion of difl^erent ages and to the rank of the deceased. 

The same observation may be made with respect to urns which have 
been found generally in tumuli, but often below the surface where there 
Lad been no hillock : they were usually composed of pottery, and some- 
times of stone, and were of diff^erent shapes, and variously ornamented 
according to the taste of tlie times and the ability of the parties. Be- 
sides the varieties already noticed in tlie modes of sepulture in Soutli 


and North Britain there were others not yet noticed. Tn both ends of 
the island sepulchi'al tumuli have been found in close connexion with 
the Druidical Circles. At Aehencorthie, the field of the circles, there are 
the remains of a Druidical temple which was composed of three con- 
centric circles ; and there has been dug up between the two outer circles, 
a cistvaen about three feet long* and one foot and a half wide, wherein 
there was found an urn containing some ashes. At Barrach in the 
parish of New Deer, Aberdeenshire, a peasant digging for stones, in a 
Druidical temple, found,, about eighteen inches below the surface, a 
flat stone lying horizontally ; and, on raising it, he discovered an urn, 
full of human bones, some of which were quite fresh ; but on being 
touched they crumbled into dust. This urn had no bottom but was 
placed on a flat stone, like that which covered its top ; and about a 
yard from this excavation another urn was found, containing similar 
remains. These facts demonstrate an intimate connexion between 
Druidical remains and tumuli, and show that they must have been the 
handy-work of the same people. 

As stone chests and clay urns containing ashes and bones have been 
frequently dug up about the ancient fortresses, a very close connexion 
is supposed to have existed between these strengths and the sepulchral 
tumuli. On the eastern side of the British fort at Inchtuthel, there are 
two sepulchral tumuli ; and several have also been found on a moor in 
the parish of Monzie, contiguous to a British fortress : in one of these 
called Carw- Comb-hall, a stone coflin was discovered. It is conjectured 
that these were the burial places of the chiefs who commanded the 
Caledonian hill forts in early times. 

When such pains were taken to keep alive the recollection of the 
inglorious dead, it is not to be imagined that the memories of those 
who fell in battle would be forgotten. Accordingly the fields of 
ancient conflict are still denoted by sepulchral cairns ; and it is even 
conjectured that the battle at the Grampians has been perpetuated 
by supulchral tumuli raised to the memory of the Caledonians who fell 
in defence of their country. " On the hill, above the moor of Ardoch 
(says Gordon Itin. Septen. p. 42) are two great heaps of stones, the 
one called Carn-ivochel, the other Carnlee . the former is the greatest 
curiosity of this kind, that I ever met with ; the quantity of great 
rough stones, lying above one another, almost surpasses belief, whicli 
made me have the curiosity to measure it ; and I found the whole 
heap to be about one hundred and eighty-two feet in length, thirty in 
sloping height, and forty five in breadth at the bottom." Some ol 
these cairns which are still to be found in the parish of Libbcrton near 
Edinburgh, are known by the name of Cat-stanes or Battle-stanes. 
There are single stones also in many parts of North Britain still known 
by the appropriate name of Cat-sta?ies. The British Cad or tlie Scoto- 
Irish Cath, both of which words signify a battle, is the original derivji- 
lion of tliis name. 

The next ohjocts of antiquarian notice arc the s(anflfnff-s(07ics, so tra- 


ditionally denominated from their upright position. They arc all to bo 
found in their natural shape without any mark from the tool or chisel. 
Sometimes they appear single and as often in groups of two, three, four 
or more. These standing -stones are supposed to have no connexion with 
the Druidical remains, but are thought by some to have been erected 
in successive ages as memorials to perpetuate certain events which, as 
the stones are without inscriptions, they have not transmitted to pos- 
terity, although such events may be otherwise known in history. In 
Arran there are two large stone edifices which are quite rude, and se- 
veral smaller ones ; and there are also similar stones in Harris. These 
standing stones are numerous in Mull, some of which are very large, 
and are commonly called by the Scoto-Irish inhabitants Carra, a word 
signifying in their language a stone pillar. These stones in short are 
to be seen in every part of North Britain as well as in England, Wales, 
Cornwall and Ireland; but being without inscriptions they " do not," as 
Chalmers observes, " answer the end either of personal vanity or oi 
national gratitude." 

After the aboriginal inhabitants of North Britain had become indi- 
genous to the soil which the bounds set to their farther emigration to 
the north by the waters of the Atlantic would hasten sooner than in 
any other country over which the Celtic population spread, it became 
necessary for them to select strongholds for defending themselves from 
the attacks of foreign or domestic foes. Hence the origin of the hill- 
forts and other safeguards of the original people which existed in Nortli 
Britain at the epoch of the Roman invasion. There were many of 
these in the south, the description of which do not fall within the design 
of this work ; but the notice to be given of those in the north of Scot- 
land will suffice for a general idea of the whole. 

In the parish of Menmuir in Forfarshire, are two well known hill- 
forts called White Caterthun, standing to the south, and Brown 
Caterthun, to the northward. The name is derived from the British 
words, Coder, a fortress, a stronghold, and Dun^ a hill. These arc 
said to be decidedly reckoned amongst the most ancient Caledonian 
strongholds and to be coeval with what are called British forts. 
White Caterthun is of uncommon strength : it is of an oval form 
constructed of a stupendous dike of loose stones, the convexity of 
which, from the base within to that without is a hundred and twenty- 
two feet : and on the outside, a hollow, which is made by the disposition 
of the stones, surrounds the whole. Round the base is a deep ditch ; 
and below, about a hundred yards, are vestiges of another trench that 
swept round the hill. The area within the stonyhill is flat ; the length 
of the oval is four hundred and thirty-six feet, and the transverse diam- 
eter two hundred ; near the east side, is the foundation of a rectangular 
building ; and there are also the foundations of other erections, whicli 
are circular, and smaller, all which foundations had once their super- 
structures, the shelters of the possessors of the fort : while there is a 
hollow, now nearly filled with stones, which it is supposed was ones 


the well of the fort. The other fortress, which is called Brown 
Caterthiin, from the colour of the earth, that comjjoses the ramparts 
is of a circular form, and consists of various concentric dikes. 

A British fortress on Barra-hill in Aberdeenshire^ similar to those 
described, deserves notice. It is built in an elliptical form ; and the 
ramparts were partly composed of stones, having a large ditch that 
occupies the simimit of the hill, which as it is about two hundred feet 
above the vale, overlooks the low ground between it and the mountain 
of Benachie. It was surrounded by three lines of circumvallation. 
Facing the west the hill rises very steeply ; and the middle line is 
interrupted by rocks ; while the only access to the fort is on the eastern 
side where the ascent is easy ; and at this part the entry to the fort is 
perfectly obvious. This Caledonian hill-fort is now called by the 
tradition of the country, Cummins Camp, from the defeat which the 
Earl of Buchan there sustained, when attacked by the gallant Bruce. 
The name Barra is derived from Bar which, in the British language 
as well as in the Scoto-Irish, signifies a summit and from Ra, which in 
the latter denotes a fort, a strength. 

On the top of Barry-hill near Alyth in Perthshire which derives ita 
name it is believed from the same etymology, there was a fort of very 
great strength. The summit of this hill has been levelled into an area 
of about one hundred and sixty-eight yards in circumference within 
the rampart. A vast ditch surrounded this fort. The approach to the 
fort was from the north-east, along the verge of a precipice ; and 
the entrance was secured by a bulwark of stones, the remains of which 
still exist. Over the ditch, which was ten feet broad, and fom'teen feet 
below the foundation of the wall, a narrow bridge was raised, about 
eighteen feet long and two feet broad ; and this bridge was composed 
of stones, which had been laid together without much art, and vitrified 
on all sides, so that the whole mass was firmly cemented. This is the 
only part of the fortifications which appears to have been intentionally 
vitrified ; for although among the ruins there are several pieces of 
vitrified stone, it must have been accidental, as these stones are in- 
considerable. There seems to be no vestige of a well ; but westward 
beyond the base of the mound and the precipice, there was a deep 
pond, which has been recently filled np. The tradition of the country, 
which is probably derived from the fiction of Boyce, relates that this 
vast strength of Barry-hill was the appropriate prison of Arthur's 
queen, the well known Guenever, who had been taken prisoner by the 
Picts. About a quarter of a mile eastward, on the declivity of the 
hill, there are some remains of another oval fort, which was defended 
by a strong wall, and a deep ditch. Tlie same tradition relates, with 
similar appearance of fiction, that there existed a subterraneous com- 
munication between these two British forts, on Barry-hill. Within 
the walls of both fortresses there appear to be the remains of some 
Buperstructure, probably the dwellings of tliose who defended them. 

Many forts exist in every district o** Nortli Britain of a similar na 


turc and of equal magnitude, several of which exhibit also the remains 
of the same kind of structures, within the area of each, for the shelter 
of their inhabitants. There is a fortress of this kind, which commands 
an extensive view of the lower parts of Braidalbane. On the summit of 
Dun-Evan in Nairnshire, there is also a similar fortress, consisting of two 
ramparts, which surround a level space of the same oblong form, with 
that of Craig- Phadric, though not quite so large. Within the area of 
Dun-Evan, there are the traces of a well, and the remains of a large 
mass of building, which once furnished shelter to the defenders of the 
fort. A similar fort exists in Glenelg in Inverness-shire : a stone 
rampart surrounds the top of the hill, and in the area there is the 
vestige of a circular building for the use of the ancient inhabitants. 

On the east side of Lochness, stands the fortress of DunJmr-duil upon 
a very high hill of a circular, or rather conical shape the summit of which 
is only accessible, on the south-east by a narrow ridge, which con- 
nects the mount with a hilly chain, that runs up to Stratherric. On 
every other quarter the ascent is almost perpendicular ; and a rapid 
river winds round the circumference of the base. The summit is sur- 
rounded by a very strong wall of dry stones, which was once of great 
height and thickness. The inclosed area is an oblong square of twen- 
ty-five yards long, and fifteen yards broad ; it is level and clear of 
stones, and has on it the remains of a well. Upon a shoulder of this 
hill, about fifty feet below the summit, there is a druidical temple, 
consisting of a circle of large stones, firmly fixed in the ground, with 
a double row of stones, extending from one side as an avenue, or entry 
to the circle. 

From the situation of these hill-forts, as they are called, their relative 
positions to one another, and the accommodations attached to them, it 
has been inferred with great plausibility that they were rather con- 
structed for the purpose of protecting the tribes from the attacks of one 
another, than with the design of defending themselves from an invad- 
mg enemy. As a corroboration of this view it is observed, that these 
fortresses are placed upon eminences, in those parts of the country which 
in the early ages must have been the most habitable and furnished 
the greatest quantity of subsistence. They frequently appear in groups 
of three, four or more in the vicinity of each other; and they are so dis- 
posed, upon the tops of heights, that sometimes a considerable number 
may be seen at the same time, one of them being always much larger 
and stronger than the others, placed in the most commanding situation, 
and no doubt intended as the distinguished post of the chief. 

Subterraneous retreats or caves were common to most early nations 
for the purpose of concealment in war. The Britons and their Cale- 
donian descendants had also their hiding places. The excavations or 
retreats were of two sorts : fii*st, Artificial structures formed under 
ground of rude stones without cement ; and, secondly. Natural caves in 
rocks which have been rendered more commodious by art. 

Of the first sort are the subterraneous apartments which have been 


discovered in Forfarshire, within the parish of Tealing. This building 
was composed of large flat stones without cement, consisting of two or 
three apartments not more than five feet wide, and covered yviilx 
stones of the same kind ; and there were found in this subterraneous 
building, some wood ashes, several fragments of large earthen vessels, 
and one of the ancient hand-mills called querns. In the same parish, 
there has been discovered a similar building, which the country people 
call in the Irish language a weem or cave : it is about four feet high, 
and four feet wide ; and it is composed of large loose stones. There 
was found in it a broad earthen vessel and an instrument resembling 
an adze. Several hiding holes of a smaller size, and of a somewhat 
different construction, are to be seen in the Western Hebrides. Subter- 
raneous structures have been also found on Kildrummie moor, in Aber- 
deenshire; in the district of Applecross in Ross-shire; and in Kildonan 
parish in Sutherland. A subterraneous building sixty feet long has been 
discovered on the estate of Raits in the parish of Alvie in Inverness- 

Of the second kind there are several in the parish of Applecross. 
On the coast of Skye, in the parish of Portree, there are some caves 
of very large extent, one of which is capacious enough to contain five 
hundred persons. In the isle of Arran there are also several large caves, 
which appear to have been places of retreat in ancient times. One of 
these at Drumaduin is noted, in the fond tradition of the country, at 
the lodging of Fin MacCoul the Fingal of Ossian, during his residence 
in Arran. This is called the King's Cave, and is said to have been hon- 
oured with the presence of the illustrious Bruce who, along with his 
patriot companions, was obliged to resort to it as a place of temporary 
safety. There are other caves of great dimensions in this island, of 
which as well as of those in Skye many strange and fabulous stories 
are told. 

Some of the warlike weapons of the ancient Caledonians have been 
already mentioned. Besides their spears, swords and daggers, they 
also used axes or hatchets and arrow heads. The hatchets which have 
been usually found are generally of flint, and are commonly called celtSy 
a term which antiquaries have been unable to explain. An etymolo- 
gist would derive the name from the British word celt literally signify- 
ing 2^ flint stone. Some of these hatchets were formed of brass or other 
materials of a similar kind, as well as of flint. Arrow heads made of 
sharp-pointed flint have been found in various graves in North Britain, 
on the side of a hill in the parish of Benholm, Kincardineshire, where 
tradition says a battle was fought in ancient times, and also in the isle of 
Skye. These arrow heads of flint are known among the common peo- 
ple by the name of elf -shots from a superstitious notion that they were 
shot by elves or fairies at cattle. Hence the vulgai* impute many of the 
disorders of their cattle to these elf-shots. When superstition finds out 
its own cause, of course it has always its remedy at hand; and accord- 
ingly the cure of the distressed animal may be eff'ected either by the 


touch of tlie elf-shot or by making the animal drink of water in whicli 
the elf-shot had been dipped. 

It thus appears that the ancient Caledonians were not deficient in 
tlie implements of war ; their armouries being supplied with helmets, 
shields, and chariots, and with spears, daggers, swords, battle-axes and 
bows. The chiefs alone, however, used the helmet and chariot. These 
accoutrements have been mostly all found in the graves of the warriors, 
or have been seen, during recent times, on the Gaelic soldiers in fight. 

Among such rude tribes as have been described, marine science must 
have been little attended to and but imperfectly understood. As 
the ancient Caledonians had no commerce of any kind and never 
attempted piratical excursions, the art of shipbuilding was unknown to 
them; at least no memorials have been left to show that they were 
acquainted with it. They, however, constructed canoes consist- 
ing of a single tree, which they hollowed with fire in the manner 
of the American Indians ; and they put these canoes in motion by means 
of a small paddle or oar in the same manner as the Indian savages do at 
this day. With these they crossed rivers and arms of the sea, and tra- 
versed lakes. Many of these canoes have been discovered both in 
South and North Britain embedded in lakes and marshes. 

The most remarkable and the largest discovered in North Britain, 
was that found in the year 1726 near the influx of the Carron into 
the Forth, buried fifteen feet in the south bank of the Forth : it was 
thirty-six feet long, four feet broad in the middle, four feet four inches 
deep, four inches thick in the sides ; and it was all of one piece of solid 
oak, sharp at the stem and broad at the stern. This canoe Avas finely 
polished, being quite smooth within and without. Not a single knot 
was observed in the whole block, and the wood was of an extraordinary 

The canoes were afterwards superseded, at an early period, by another 
marine vehicle called a currach. Caesar describes the currachs of South 
Britain as being accommodated with keels and masts of the lightest 
wood, while their hulls consisted of wicker covered over with leather. 
Lucan calls them little ships in which he says the Britons were wont 
to navigate the ocean. Solinus says that it was common to pass between 
Britain and Ireland in these little ships. It is stated by Adomnaninhis 
life of St. Columba that St. Cormac sailed into the north sea in one of these 
currachs, and that he remained there fourteen days in perfect safety ; 
but this vessel must have been very different from the currachs of 
Caesar, as according to our author it had all the parts of a ship with 
sails and oars, and was capacious enough to contain passengers. Proba- 
bly the currachs in which the Scoto-Irish made incursions into Britain 
during the age of Claudian were of the latter description. ' 

The reader will now be able to form a general idea of the Caledon- 
ian Britons, and their most important antiquities and topographical posi- 
tions, at the memorable era of Agricola's invasion of North Britain, the 
inhabitants of which opposed him with a prowess and bravery which 
I. o 


astonished the conquerors of the world and excited their wonder aud 
admiration ; but no bravery however great, circumstanced as the 
Caledonians then were, disunited by principle and habit, could with- 
stand the military skill and experience of the Roman legions. 

The interval between the first invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar 
and the time when Agricola assumed the command of the Roman 
army in that country, embraces a period of one hundred and thirty-five 
years, during all which time the legions of imperial Rome had not been 
able to penetrate into North Britain. The complete conquest of the 
whole island had often occupied the thoughts of the Emperors and the 
able commanders to whom the government of South Britain was en- 
trusted; but the bravery of the people, and a variety of obstacles hitherto 
insurmountable, thwarted their designs. It was reserved for Agricola 
to effect what the most skilful of his predecessors could not accomplish ; 
and although he failed in bringing the whole of Caledonia under 
subjection to the Roman yoke, his victories and conquests have covered 
his name with glory as a warrior and a statesman. We are not to re- 
gard him as the ruthless invader carrying fire and sword into the 
bosom of a peaceable country, but rather as the mild and merciful con- 
queror bringing in his train the blessings of civilization and refinement 
to a rude and ungovernable people; nor should we forget that it is to 
him chiefly that we are indebted for the information which we now 
possess of the earliest period of our history. 

It was in the year seventy-eight of the Christian era that Agricola 
took the command in Britain, but he did not enter North Britain till 
the year eighty-one, at which time he was forty-one years of age. The 
years seventy-nine and eighty were spent in subduing the tribes to the 
south of the Solway Frith hitherto unconquered, and in the year 
eighty-one Agricola entered on his fourth campaign by marching into 
North Britain along the shores of the Solway Frith and overrunning 
the mountainous region which extends from that estuary to the Friths 
of Clyde and Forth, the Glotta and Bodotria of Tacitus. He finished 
this campaign by raising a line of forts on the narrow isthmus betweei? 
these Friths, so that as Tacitus observes, " the enemies being removed 
as into another island" the country to the south might be regarded as a 
quiet province. But Agricola still having enemies in his rear in the 
persons of the Selgovse and Novantes, who inhabited the south-western 
parts of North Britain, he resolved, before pushing his conquests farther 
to the north, to subdue these hostile tribes. The fifth campaign in 
eighty-two was undertaken with this view. " He therefore invaded,'* 
says his historian, " that part of Britain which is opposite to Ireland," 
being the whole extent of Galloway both by sea and land. A landing 
from the fleet, which had been brought from the Isle of Wight, was 
effected within the loch near Brow at the Lochermouth which here 
*"orms a natural harbour ; but the Locher moss, which was then a vast 
marsh and a wood Impenetrable to every thing but Roman labour 
and skill, obstructed his march. Difficulties which would have 


been almost insuperable to any other commander vanished before the 
genius and perseverance of Agricola, who opened a passage througli 
the whole of this wood and marsh by felling the trees which obstructed 
the progress of his army, and making a causeway of the trunks so cut 
down across the morass. He marched along the shore with part of hig 
army, leaving the estuary of Locher and Caerlaverock on his left, and 
encamped against Uxellum the chief town of the Selgovse. From this 
position he continued his march, and arrived at length at tha 
Caerbantorigum of Ptolemy, the Drummore Castle of modern maps, 
one of the largest and strongest fortresses of the Selgovte. The traces 
of Agricola's route through the country of the Novantes which was not 
so well fortified as that of the Selgovse cannot be so easily defined. 

Having accomplished the subjugation of these two tribes, Agricola 
made preparations for his next campaign which he was to open beyond 
the Forth in the summer of eighty-tlu-ee. He began by surveying 
the coasts and sounding the harbours, on the north side of the Forth 
by means of his fleet. As, according to Tacitus, the country beyond 
the Forth was the great object of Agricola ; and as the latter appears 
to have been aware of the formidable resistance which had been pre- 
pared for him by the Caledonians, if he should attempt to cross the 
estuary, it is supposed, with every appearance of probability, that he em- 
ployed his fleet in transporting his army across the Forth from as conve- 
nient a station as he could select without being perceived by the enemy ; 
and it is certain that the seamen were frequently mixed with the cavali-y 
and infantry in the same camp after Agricola arrived among the Horestii. 
The off^ensive operations of the sixth campaign were commenced by the 
Caledonian Britons who, from the higher country, made a furious attack 
on the Transforthan fortifications, which so alarmed some of Agricola's 
officers, who were afraid of being cut off from a retreat, that they advised 
their general to recross the Forth without delay; but Agricola resisted this 
advice and made preparations for the attack which he expected would 
soon be made upon his army. In pursuance of a plan which he had 
formed he disposed his army in three divisions. The position which 
his army occupied appears to have been near Carnock on the site of 
two farms appropriately known by the names of East Camp and West 
Camp where are still to be traced the remains of two military stations 
From this position the Roman general pushed forward the ninth legion 
to Loch Ore about two miles southward from Loch Leven, with two 
ranges of hills in front, the Cleish range on their left, and Binnarty hill 
on their right. The camp here formed was situated on the north side 
of Loch Ore, less than half a mile south-west from Loch Ore house in 
the parish of Ballingry in Fife. Its form was nearly square and its 
total circumference was about two thousand and twenty feet, and it was 
surrounded by three rows of ditches and as many ramparts of earth 
and stone. Another division of the army encamped it is said near 
Dunearn-hill, about a mile distant from Burntisland, near which hill are 
still to be seen the remains of a strength called Agricola's Camp. 


The Horestii having watched the proceedings of tlie Roman army 
made the necessary preparations for attack, and during the night deli- 
vered a furious assault on the Roman entrenchments at Loch Ore. 
They had acted with such caution that they were actually at the very 
camp before Agricola was aware of their movements ; but with great 
presence of mind he despatclied a body of his lightest troops to turn 
their flank and attack the assailants in the rear. After an obstinate 
engagement, maintained with varied success in the very gates of the 
camp, the Britons were at length repulsed by the superior skill of the 
Roman veterans. This battle was so far decisive, that Agricola did not 
find much difficulty afterwards in subduing the country of the Horestii, 
and having finished his campaign he passed the winter of eighty-three 
in Fife ; being supplied with provisions from his fleet in the Forth, and 
keeping up a constant correspondence with his garrisons on his southern 

After the defeat of the Horestii, the Caledonians began to perceive 
the danger of their situation from the near proximity of such a powerful 
enemy, and a sense of this danger impelled them to lay aside the feuds 
and jealousies which had divided and distracted their tribes, to consult 
together for their mutual safety and protection, and to combine their 
scattered strength into a united and energetic mass. The proud spirit 
of independence which had hitherto kept the Caledonian tribes apart, 
now made them coalesce in support of their liberties, which were 
threatened with utter annihilation. In this eventful crisis, they looked 
around them for a leader or chief under whom they might fight the 
battles of freedom, and save their country from the dangers which 
threatened it. A chief, named Galgacus by Tacitus, was pitched upon 
to act as generalissimo of the Caledonian army ; and, from the praises 
bestowed upon him by that historian, this warrior appears to have well 
merited the distinction thus bestowed. Preparatory to the struggle 
they were about to engage in, they sent their wives and children into 
places of safety ; and they ratified the confederacy which they had en- 
tered into against their common enemy, in solemn assemblies in which 
public sacrifices were ofi^jred up. 

Having strengthened his army with some British auxiliaries from 
the south, Agricola marched through Fife in the summer of eighty-four, 
sending at the same time his fleet round the eastern coast, to support 
!iim in liis operations, and to distract the attention of the Caledonians. 
The line of Agricola's march, it is conjectured, was regulated by the 
course of the Devon ; and he is supposed to have turned to the right 
from Glen-devon through the opening of the Ochil hills, along the 
course of the rivulet which forms Glen-eagles ; leaving the braes of 
Ogilvie on his left, and passing between Blackford and Auchterarder 
towards the Grampian hills, which he saw at a distance before him as 
lie debouched from the Ochils. By an easy march he rejiched the moor 
of Ardoch, from whiJi he descried the Caledonian army, to the num- 
ber of thirty thousand men, encamped on the declivity of the hill whicli 


begins to rise from the north-wesiern border of the moor of Ardoch. 
Agricola took his station at the great camp which adjoins the fort of 
Ardoch on the northward. From this camp Tacitus informs us, that 
Agricola drew out his army on the neighbouring moor, having a large 
ditch of considerable length in front. The Caledonians, after making 
the necessary preparations for battle, descended from the position which 
they occupied on the declivity of the hill, and attacked the Roman army 
with the most determined bravery. The battle was long and bloody, 
but night put an end to the combat; and the Caledonians seeing no hopes 
of driving the enemy from his entrenchments resolved to retreat. 
Here again superior skill and science triumphed over rude valour. The 
short swords and large shields of the Romans, with the use of which they 
were so familiar, gave them a decided advantage over the longer and 
more inefficient weapons of the Caledonians; while the plan of keeping 
troops in reserve to relieve those who were fatigued or sorely pressed 
upon, always adopted in the Roman army, enabled the soldiers of Agri- 
cola to maintain the contest with undiminished vigour, tended greatly 
to weary out the breathless impetuosity of their less skilful assailants. 
Yet the Romans paid dearly for the advantage they obtained, their 
loss being more considerable than might have been expected in a con- 
flict really so unequal. The number that fell on the side of the Caledo- 
nians is rated at ten thousand. It may be necessary to acquaint the 
reader, that the site of this famous battle is a subject of much contro- 
versy among antiquaries, and that the place above indicated has been 
selected as the one which, from various circumstances, has most histo- 
rical probabilities in its favom\ 

As Agricola, from the check he had experienced, found it impossible 
either to advance or retain his position during the ensuing winter, he 
retraced his steps ; and after taking hostages from the Horestii, he 
re-crossed the Forth and took up his winter quarters on the south of 
the Tyne and Solway. During his progress soutliward, he sent his fleet 
on a voyage of discovery to the north which, after exploring the whole 
coast from the Forth to the Hebrides and descrying the Ultima Thule, 
supposed to be either the Shetland islands or Foula, the most westerly 
of the group, or Iceland, returned ad portum Trutulensem^ or Richbo- 
rough, or Rickborough, before tlie approach of winter. 

The Emperor Domitian now resolved to supersede Agricola in his 
command in North Britain ; and he was accordingly recalled in the 
year eighty-five, under the pretence of promoting him to the govern- 
ment of Syria, but in reality out of envy on account of the glory whicli 
he had obtained by the success of his arms. He died on the 23d of 
August, ninety- three, some say, from poison, while others attribute his 
death to the effects of chagrin at the unfeeling treatment of Domitian. 
His countrymen lamented his death, and Tacitus, his son-in-law, pre- 
served the memory of his actions and his worth in the history of his 

During the remainder of Domitian's reign and that of Adrian his sue- 


cesser, Nortli Britain appears to have enjoyed tranquillity ; an inference 
which may be fairly drawn from the silence of the Roman historians- 
Yet as Adi'ian in the year one hundred and twenty-one built a wall 
between the Sol way and the Tyne, some writers have supposed that the 
Romans had been driven by the Caledonians out of North Britain, in the 
reign of that Emperor. But if such was the case how did LoUius Ur- 
bicus, the Roman general, about nineteen years after Adrian's wall was 
erected, penetrate without opposition to Agricola's forts between the 
Clyde and the Forth ? INIay we not rather suppose that the wall of 
Adrian was built for the purpose of preventing incursions into the south 
by the tribes which inhabited the country between that wall and the 
Friths ? But, be this as it may, little is known of the history of North 
Britain from the time of Agricola's recal till the year one hundred and 
thirty-eight, when Antoninus Pius assumed the imperial purple. That 
good and sagacious emperor was distinguished by the care which he 
took in selecting the fittest officers for the government of the Roman 
provinces ; and his choice, for that of Britain, fell on Lollius Urbicus, 
a man who united talents for peace with a genius in war. 

After putting down a revolt of the Brigantes in South Britain in the 
year one hundred and thirty-nine, this able general marched northward 
the following year to the Friths, between which he built a wall of earth 
on the line of Agricola's forts. He proceeded northward and is sup- 
posed to have carried his arms as far north as the Varar or Moray 
Frith, throwing the whole of the extensive country between Forth and 
Clyde and the Varar into the regular form of a Roman province. The 
numerous Roman stations found throughout the wide tract just men- 
tioned, seem to corroborate this very probable conjecture. At this 
period the Emperor Antoninus, with that spirit of benevolence which 
formed a prominent trait in his character, extended the right of citi- 
zenship over the whole Roman empire ; and thus all the inhabitants of 
North Britain who had resided along the east coast, from the IVeed 
to the Moray Frith, might, like St. Paul, have claimed the privileges 
of Roman citizens. But it is not likely that the Caledonians availed 
themselves of those rights. Their native pride and independence, 
which could not brook the idea of acknowledging any subjection to a 
foreign power, induced them to pay little regard to privileges which, 
though granted with the most praise-worthy motives, always reminded 
them of the causes which led to them. 

It may not be out of place here to give some account of the wall of 
Antoninus erected by Lollius Urbicus. Capitulinns, who flourished 
during the third century, is the first writer who notices this wall, and 
states that it was built in the reign of Antoninus Pius, but he gives no 
exact description of it. The wall or rampart extended from Caeridden 
on theForLli to Dunglas and perhaps to Alcluid on the Clyde. Taking 
the length of this wall from Old Kilpatrick, on the Clyde, to Caeridden 
on the Forth, its extent would be thirty-nine thousand seven hundred 
and twenty-six Roman paces, which agree exactly with the modern 


measurement of thirty-six English miles, and six hundred and twenty 
yards. This rampart which was of earth, and rested on a stone founda- 
tion, was upwards of twenty feet high and four and twenty feet thick. 
Along the whole extent of the wall there was a vast ditch or 
pTcBtentura on the outward or north side, which was generally twenty 
feet deep and forty feet wide, and which, there is reason to believe, 
might be filled with water when occasion required. This ditch and ram- 
part were strengthened at both ends, and throughout its whole extent, by 
one and twenty forts, three being at each extremity, and the remainder 
placed between at the distance of 3554^ yards, or something more 
than two English miles from one another ; and it has been clearly 
ascertained that these stations were designedly placed on the previous 
fortifications of Agricola. Its necessary appendage, a military road, ran 
behind the rampart from end to end, for the use of the troops and for 
keeping up the usual communication between the stations or forts. 
From inscriptions on some of the foundation stones, which have been 
dug up, it appears that the second legion, with detachments from the 
sixth and twentieth legions and some auxiliaries, executed these vast 
military works, equally creditable to their skill and perseverance. 
Dunglas near the western extremity, and Blackness near the eastern 
extremity of the rampart, aff'orded the Romans commodious harbours 
for their shipping, such as they enjoyed, while they remained in North 
Britain, at Cramond. This wall is called in the popular language of 
the country Grime's Dyke, the etymology of which has confounded an- 
tiquarians and puzzled philologists. In British speech and in the 
Welsh language of the present day the word Grym signifies strength; 
but whether the appellation which the wall now receives is derived 
from such a root seems doubtful. Certain it is, that the absurd fiction 
of Fordun, Boyce and Buchanan, who derive the name from a supposi- 
titious person of the name of Grime and his Scots having broke through 
this wall, has long been exploded with many other fictions of the same 

At this epoch we may date the height of the Roman power in 
Britain. The Romans had now enlarged their territories to their 
greatest extent : they had conducted Iters almost to the extremities of 
North Britain, from the Solway and Tyne to the Forth and Clyde, 
and from thence to the Burgh-head of Moray: they had formed 
roads throughout that extent of country, and they had established 
stations in the most commanding places within the districts of 
Valentia and Vespasiana. As a notice of these works of art cannot 
fail to be interesting, they shall be here shortly described as they 
existed in the province of Vespasiana, extending from the wall of 
Antoninus to the Varar or the Moray Frith. 

According to Richard of Cirencester, an Iter with its accompanying 
stations, traversed the whole extent of Vespasiana from the wall of 
Antoninus to the Varar or Moray Frith. The first stage extended 
twelve miles from the wall to Alauna, or the Allan water near its 


junction with the Forth. From thence it went forward aiong Strath- 
allan, nine miles to the Lindum of Richard's Itinerary, the well known 
station at Ardoch. From Lindum the Iter passed tlu'oughout a course 
of nine miles to the Victoria of the Itinerary, the proud monument of 
Agricola's victory of the Grampians, the DeaJginross of the Tourists, at 
the western extremity of Strathern. The Iter then took an easterly 
direction nine miles to Hierna the station on the Ern at Strageth and 
from thence to Orrea on the Tay, at the distance of fourteen itinerary 
miles. From Orrea the Iter went ad Tavum nineteen miles ; and from 
thence ad Esicam twenty-three miles. Setting off from Orrea in an 
easterly direction, through the passage of the Seidlaw hills and along 
the Carse of Gowrie the Iter reached ad Tavum on the northern 
side of the estuary of the Tay, near Dundee. From this last station, 
proceeding in a north-east direction through the natural opening of 
the country, the Iter, at the distance of eleven miles, fell in with 
the well known Roman camp at Harefauld's ; and at the end of these 
twenty-three miles nearly, it reached the Soutli Esk at Brechin 
the ad Esicam of Richard. In the course of this route, at tlie distance 
of two miles west from Dundee and half a mile north from Invergowrie, 
on the estuary of the Tay, there are the remains of a Roman camp, 
about two hundred yards square, fortified with a high rampart and a 
spacious ditch. 

From the last mentioned station, the course of the itinerary 
proceeded in a north-east direction, and would have arrived at the 
end of five miles and three quarters, on the North Esk, the Tina of 
Richard. Passing the North Esk at the King's ford, the Roman 
troops, it is supposed, marched straight forward through the valley 
of Luther water, about eight and a half miles, to the station at For- 
dun, where the remains of two Roman camps are to be seen ; and 
thence by Urie hill, where there is the well known camp of Raedikes, 
from which, in a northerly direction, about six English miles, these 
troops would reach the river Dee at Peter- Culter, the Devana of 
Ptolemy and Richard. This last position is thirty-one miles from the 
South Esk, at Brechin ; and the route corresponds with the devious 
track delineated on Richard's useful map. Remains of extensive 
entrenchments of a rectangular form, at the termination of the itinerary 
distance on the north side of the Dee, west from the church of IMary- 
Culter, and south-west from the church of Peter- Culter, indicate the 
site of a Roman camp. These remains are popularly denominated, 
"Me Norman Dikes'' This camp extended from the north-east to 
the west-south-west. The rampart and ditch, on the northern side are 
about three quarters of a mile long, and remain tolerably entire. From 
each end of this work, a rampart and ditch ran oflF at right angles, 
and formed the ends of a camp, a few hundred yards of which only 
remain : the whole of the southern side is destroyed. Tliis camp is 
938 yards long, and 543 yards broad ; comprohending an area of eighty 
Scotch acrcS; being nearly of the same size as the camp of Raedikes^ 

ITERS. 25 

on the Ithaii, the next stage in the Iter. It has two gates in each side, 
like the camps of Battledikes and Harefaulds, and at Urie, and one 
gate in each of the ends, which appears to have been covered by a 
traverse in the Roman manner. 

From the Dee at Peter- Culter, the Iter proceeded on the right o( 
Achlea, Fiddy, and Kinmundy, and from thence in a north-north-west 
direction, it went through a plain district, till it reached the site of 
Kintore on the Don, and thence it followed, according to the Roman 
practice, the strath of the river to the head of the Don, where there 
is a ford, at the same place where the high road has always passed 
the same river to Inver-urie. The Romans then passed the Urie 
and pushed on in a north-north-west course, through a moorish district 
to the sources of the Ithan, the Ituna of Richard, where the camp of 
Glen-mailen was placed, an extended course of twenty-six statute 
miles between these itinerary stations. The camp at Glen-mailen as 
well as the camp at Urie, is called the i?«e-Dikes, from the Gaelic 
Ra' signifying a cleared spot, or fortress. 

In proceeding from Glen-mailen, the Romans directed their course 
northward, and crossing the Doveran, at Achengoul, where there are 
still considerable remains of military works, they arrived, at the dis- 
tance of thirteen statute miles, at the high ground on the north of 
Foggy-lone at the eastern base of the Knock-hill, the real Mons Gram- 
pitcs of Richard, being the first landmark seen by mariners as they 
approach the most easterly point of North Britain. The heights near 
Glen-mailen afford a distinct view of the whole course of the Moray 
Frith, and the intermediate country through which the Romans had to 
pass forward to their ultimate object, Ptoroto?i, or Kinnaird's head 
and the whole of the north-east of Buchan may be seen from the high 
grounds on the north of Foggy-lone. 

From the station at Knock-hill the itinerary proceeds ad Selinam ot 
Richard, or to the rivulet Cullen, near the old tower of Deskford, at 
the distance often statute miles. This is evident from the circumstance 
of Roman coins having been found some years ago near the old 
bridge, a little below the tower of Deskford. Following the com-se of 
the rivulet to Inver- Cullen, and passing along the coast of the Moray 
Frith, the Roman armies arrived at the Roman post which is 
still to be seen on the high bank of the Spey, the Tuessis of Ptolemy 
and Richard, below the church of Bellie, a distance of nineteen statute 
miles. About half a mile north-east of the ruins of Bellie, on a bank 
overlooking the low fluviated ground of the river, are the remains of a 
Roman encampment. It is situated upon aflat surface, and forms nearly 
a rectangular parallelogram of 888 feet by 333 ; but the west side, and 
the greater part of the north end of the parallelogram are now wanting. 
It is singular that the ford on the Spey, by which the Romans were 
enabled to connect their stations in the north, during the second cen- 
tury, should have facilitated the passage of the Duke of Cumberland in 
I, i> 


April, 1746, wlien he pressed forward "in order to decide," says 
Chalmers, " the fate of the Gaelic descendants of the ancient race." 

From their station on the eastern bank of the Spey, with the Mo- 
ray Frith close to their right, they were only one day's march from the 
Alatta- Castra of Ptolemy, the Ptoroton of Richard, the Burgh-head of 
modern geographers, at the mouth of the Estuary of Varar. The north 
and west sides of the promontory called Burgh-head are steep rocks 
washed by the sea, and which rises sixty feet above the level of the low 
water-mark ; the area on the top of the head is 300 feet long on thv^ 
east side, and 320 feet long on the west side : it is 260 feet broad, and 
contains rather more than two English acres. A strong rampart, twenty 
feet high, built with old planks, cased with stone and lime, appears to 
have surrounded it: the south and east sides are pretty entire ; but the 
north and west sides are much demolished. On the east side of this 
height, and about forty-five feet below the summit, there is an area 650 
feet long, and 150 feet wide, containing upwards of three English acres 
The space occupied by the ruins of the ramparts which have fallen 
down, is not included in this measurement. It appears to have been 
surrounded with a very strong rampart of stone which is now much 
demolished. On the south and land side of these fortified areas, two 
deep ditches are carried across the neck of this promontory ; these 
ditches were, in 1792, when surveyed by Chapman, from sixteen to 
twenty feet deep, from twelve to sixteen feet wide at the bottom, and 
from forty to fifty feet wide at the top. The bottoms of the ditches 
were then 25 feet above the level of the sea at high water, and are con- 
siderably higher than the extensive tract of the flat ground on the land 
side. The ditches, ramparts, rocks, and waste ground, which sur- 
round the areas above described, contain upwards of five English acres. 

As the Romans had other stations in the north besides those noticed, 
they did not always in returning to the south follow the course of the 
Iter just described. They had another Iter, the fii'st station of which 
from the Burgh-head was the Varis of Richard, now Forres, a distance 
of eight statute miles. It is singular that the Gaelic name of Forres 
is Faris, which corresponds so exactly with Varis as to make it certain 
that Forres and the Varis of Richard are the same. Besides, when the 
streets of Forres were dug up in order to repair the pavement, there 
were discovered several Roman coins, and a Roman medallion in soft 
metal, which resembled a mixture of lead and tin. From Forres the 
Iter proceeds to the Spey at Cromdale, a distance of nineteen statute 
miles. Proceeding southward, along Strathaven by Loch-Bulg, to the 
junction of the Dee and Cluny, the Roman troops arrived at the 
commodious ford in that vicinity, a distance of twenty-eight statute 
miles from the Spey. Richard does not mention the names of the two 
next stations, the first of which is supposed to have been at the height 
which separates the waters that flow in opposite directions to the Dee 
nnd the Tay, and which consequently divides Aberdeenshire from Perth- 


ehire; and the next, it is conjectured, was at the confluence of the Sliee 
with the Lornty water, the Iter taking its course along Glen-beg and 
Glen-shee. The whole extent of this route amounts to nearly forty 
statute miles. A variety of circumstances indicate the middle station 
to have been at Inchtuthel, which still exhibits a remarkable camp of 
Roman construction, on a height that forms the northern bank of the 
Tay. From the last mentioned station to Orrea the distance is nine 
itinerary miles, and the real and corresponding distance from Inchtuthel 
along the banks of the Tay to ancient Bertha is about ten miles. At 
this central station, which has always been a military position of great 
importance, the Iter joined the one already described, and proceeded 
southward by the former route to the wall of Antoninus. 

The Romans have left many remarkable monuments of their power 
and greatness, of which the most prominent are their highways, which, 
commencing at the gates of Rome itself, traversed the whole extent of 
their mighty empire. These highways, by facilitating the communication 
between the capital and the most distant provinces, were of the utmost 
importance, in many respects, to the maintenance of the Roman authority 
in places remote from the seat of government. The whole of Britain 
was intersected by these roads, and one of them may be traced into the 
very interior of Vespasiana, where it afforded a passage to the Roman 
armies, kept up the communication between the stations, and thereby 
checked the Caledonian Clans. This road issued from the wall of 
Antoninus and passed through Camelon, the Roman port on the 
Carron, and pushing straight forward, according to the Roman custom, 
across the Carron, it pursued its course by Torwood house, Pleanmuir, 
Bannockburn, St. Ninians, and by the west side of the Castlehill of 
Stirling, to the Forth, on the south side of which, near Kildean, there 
are traces of its remains. It here passed the Forth and stretched forward 
to Alauna, which was situated on the river Allan, about a mile above 
its confluence with the Forth, and which, as it is twelve miles from the 
opening in the Roman wall, agrees with the distance in the Iter, 

From thence the road went along Strathallan, and at the end of ten 
miles came to the Lindum of Richard's Itinerary, the well known 
station at Ardoch. The road after passing on the east side of Ardoch, 
ascends the moor of Orchil to the post at Kemp's Castle which it 
passes within a few yards on the east. The road from Kemp's liilS 
descends the moor to the station of Hierna at Strageth, from which it 
immediately crosses the river Ern. After the passage of the Em 
the road turns to the right, and passes on the north side of Inverpeffery, 
in an easterly direction, and proceeds nearly in a straight line across 
the moor of Gask, and, continuing its course through the plantations of 
Gask, it passes the Roman camp on the right. At the distance of twci 
miles farther on, where the plantations of Gask terminate, this great 
road passes another small post on the left. From this position tlie 
road proceeded forward in a north-east direction to the station at Orrea, 


which is situated on the west bank of the Tay at the present confluence 
of the Almond with that noble river. 

Having crossed the Tay, by means of the wooden bridge, the Roman 
road proceeded up the east side of the river, and passed through the 
centre of the camp at Grassy-walls. From this position the remains of 
the road are distinctly visible for a mile up to Gellyhead, on the west of 
which it passed and went on by Innerbuist, to Nether- Collin, where it 
again becomes apparent, and continues distinct to the eye for two miles 
and a half, passing onto Drichmuir and Byres. From thence, the road 
stretched forward in a north-east direction, passing between Blairhead 
and Gilwell to Woodhead ; and thence pushing on by Newbigging and 
Gallowhill on the right, it descends Leyston-moor ; and passing that 
village it proceeds forward to the Roman camp at Cupar Angus, about 
eleven and a half miles from Orrea. The camp at Cupar appears to 
have been an equilateral quadrangle of four hundred yards, fortified by 
two strong ramparts and large ditches, which still remain on the east and 
south sides, and a part on the north side, but the west side has been 
obliterated by the plough. From Cupar the road took a north-east 
direction towards Reedie, in the parish of Airly. On the south of this 
hamlet the vestiges of the road again appear, and for more than half 
a mile the ancient road forms the modern way. The Roman road now 
points towards Kirriemuir, by which it appears to have passed in its 
course to the Roman camp at Battledikes. After traversing this camp, 
the road continued its course in an east-north-east direction for several 
miles along the valley on the south side of the river South-Esk, which 
it probably passed near the site of Black-mill, below Esk-mount. From 
this passage it went across the moor of Brechin, where vestiges of it 
appear pointing to Keithock ; and at this place there are the remains 
of a Roman camp which are now known by the name of Wardikes. 
Beyond this camp on the north, the Roman road has been seldom or 
never seen. In the popular tradition this road is called the Lang 
Causeivay, and is supposed to have extended northward through Perth- 
sliire and Forfarshire, and even through Kincardineshire to Stonehaven. 
About two miles north-east from the Roman station at Fordun, and 
between it and the well known camp at Urie, there are the traces, as it 
crosses a small hill, of an artificial road, which is popularly called the 
Picts' Road. 

It would appear tliat there are traces of Roman roads even farther north. 
Between the rivers Don and Urie in Aberdeenshire, on the eastern side 
of Bennachee, there exists an ancient road known in llie country by the 
name of the Maiden Catiseicay^ a name by which some of the Roman 
roads in the north of England are distinguished. This proceeds from 
Bennachee whereon there was a hill-fort, more than the distance of a 
mile into the woods of Pitodrie, when it disappears: it is paved with 
stones and is about fourteen feet wide. Still farther north, in the track 
of the Iter, as it crosses between the two stations of Varis and Tues^ is, 


from Forres to the ford of Cromdale on the Spey, there has been long 
known a road of very ancient construction, leading along the course ot 
the Iter for several miles through the hills, and pointing to Cromdale, 
where the Romans must have forded the Spey. Various traces of very 
ancient roads are still to be seen along the track of the Iter, between 
the distant station of Tuessis and Tamea, by Corgarf and through 
Braemar : the tradition of the people in Strathdee and Braemar, sup- 
ports the idea that there are remains of Roman roads which traverse 
the country between the Don and the Dee. Certain it is, that there 
are obvious traces of ancient roads which cross the wild districts 
between Strathdon and Strathdee, though it is impossible to ascertain 
where or by whom such ancient roads were constructed, in such direc- 
tions, throughout such a country. 

After the Iters and the Roads, the Roman Stations to the north of 
Antoninus' wall, come next to be noticed. The stations or forts 
along the course of the wall have been already described. The 
first we meet with is on the eastern base of Dunearn hill, about a mile 
from Burntisland, which was very distinctly marked in the days of Sib- 
bald, who mentions it, and speaks of the prcetorium as a square of a 
hundred yards diameter, called by the country people the Tournament, 
where many Roman medals have been found. This area was surrounded 
by a rampart of stones, and lower down in the face of the hill another 
wall encompassed the whole. On the north there was another fort on 
the summit of Bonie hill. There was also a Roman camp at Loch- Ore, 
supposed to be that in which the ninth legion of Agricola was attacked 
by the Horestii. Several Roman antiquities have been found in drains 
cut under this camp. Near Ardargie on the May water, at the defile of 
the Ochil hills was a small Roman post which served as a central com- 
munication between the stations on the Forth and in Strathern, the great 
scene of the Roman operations. The Romans had also a station at 
Hallyards, in the parish of TuUiebole. 

Ardocli, on the east side of Knaigwater, the scene of many Roman 
operations, from the great battle between Galgacus and Agricola, till the 
final abdication of the Roman power, was a very important post. 
As this station was the principal inlet into the interior of Caledonia, 
the Romans were particularly anxious in fortifying so advantageous 
a position. The remains of camps of various sizes are still to be 
saen. The first and largest was erected by Agricola, in his campaign 
of eighty -four. The next in size is on the west of Agricola's camp, and 
includes within its intrenchments part of the former. The third and last 
was constructed on the south side of the largest, and comprehends a part 
of it. These two last mentioned camps must have been successively 
formed after Agricola's recall. A strong fort surrounded by five or six 
fosses and ramparts was erected on the south side of the last of these 
camps, opposite to the bridge ovor Knaigwater; its area was about 
500 feet long, and 450 broad, being nearly of a square form. 

The next station was the Hierna of Richard, about six miles north- 


east from Ardocli, on the south side of the river Ern. This station 
was placed on an eminence, and commanded tlie middle part of Stratli- 
ern, lying- between the Ochil hills on the south, and the river Almond 
on the north. On the moor of Gask, between the stations of Hierna 
and Orrea, there were two Roman posts designed probably to pro- 
tect the Roman road from the incursions of the tribes on either side of 
that communication. But being situated at the confluence of the Almond 
with the Tay, Orrea was the most important station, as it commanded 
the eastern part of Strathern, the banks of the Tay, and the country 
between this river and the Siedlaw hills. 

So much with regard to the principal stations which commanded the 
central country between the Forth and Tay ; and so much for the posts 
south of the Grampian range, which seem to have served the double 
purpose of commanding the Low countries, between that range and the 
eastern sea, and of protecting the Lowlands from the incursions of the 
Northern Caledonians. But as these might be insufl&cient for the latter 
purpose, every pass of the Grampian hills had its fortress. We shall 
now point out the fortresses by which the passes of the Grampians were 
guarded throughout the extent of Perthshire. 

The first of these on the south-east was placed on a tongue of land 
formed by the junction of the rivers Strath-gartney and Strath-ire, the 
two sources of the Teith. This station was near Bochastle, about fifteen 
miles west-south-west from Ardoch, where the remains of a camp may 
still be seen; and it guarded two important passes into the west country ; 
the one leading up the valley of Strath-ire, near Braidalbane, and 
thence into Argyle; the other leading along the north side of Loch 
Venaclior, Loch Achray, and Loch Katrine, through Strath-gartney, 
into Dumbartonshire. The next passage to the north from the western 
Highlands, through the Grampian range into Perthshire, is along the 
north side of Loch Ern into Strathern. This defile was guarded by a 
double camp at Dalgenross, near the confluence of the Ruchel with the 
Ern. These camps commanded the western districts of Strathern, and 
also guarded the passage along the Loch. This station is about eight 
miles north-west from Ardoch. Another important station was at East 
Findoch, at the south side of the Almond ; it guarded the only practicable 
passage through the mountains nortliward, to an extent of thirty miles from 
east to west. The Roman camp here was placed on a high ground, 
defended by water on two sides, and by a morass with a steep bank on 
the otlier two sides. It was about one hundred and eighty paces long, 
and eighty broad, and was surrounded by a strong earthen wall, part 
of which still remains, and was near twelve feet thick. The trenches 
are still entire, and in some places six feet deep. 

On the eastern side of Strathern, and between it and the Forth, ai'O 
the remains of Roman posts ; and at Ardargie a Roman camp was estab- 
lished with the design, it is supposed, of guarding the passage through the 
Ochil hills, by the .alley of May water. Another camp at Gleneagles 
secured the passage of the same hills through Glendevon. With il.e 


desig^n of guarding tlie narrow, but useful passage from the middle 
highlands, westward through Glenlyon to Argyle, the Romans fixed a 
post at Fortingal, about sixteen miles north-west from the station at 
East-Findoch. Another station was placed at Inchtuthel, upon an emi- 
nence on the north bank of the Tay, about fifteen miles from the camp 
at Findoch. In conjunction with another station, about four miles east- 
ward upon the Haugh of Hallhole on the western side of the river Isla, 
the post at Inchtuthel commanded the whole of Stormont, and every 
road which could lead the Caledonians down from Athole and Glen-Shee 
into the countries below. Such are the posts which commanded the 
passes of the Grampians, throughout the whole extent of Perthshire. 

A different line of posts became necessary to secui-e Angus and 
the Mearns. At Cupar Angus on the east side of the Isla about seven 
miles east from Inchtuthel stood a Roman Camp, of a square form, of 
twenty acres within the ramparts. It appears to have been an equi- 
lateral quadrangle of four hundred yards, fortified with two strong 
ramparts and large ditches, which are still to be seen on the eastern 
and southern sides. This camp commanded the passage down Strath- 
more between the Siedlaw hills, on the south-east, and the Isla on the 
north-west. On Campmoor, little more than a mile south from Cupar 
Angus, appear the remains of another Roman fort. The great camp 
of Battledikes stood about eighteen miles no-rth-east from Cupar Angus, 
being obviously placed there to guard the passage from the Highlands 
through Glen-esk, and Glen-Prosen. From the camp at Battledyke?, 
about eleven and a half miles north-east was a Roman camp, the 
remains of which may still be traced near the mansion house of 
Keithock. This camp is known by the name of Wardikes. In the 
interior of Forfarshire about eight miles south-south-east from the 
camp of Battledikes and fourteen miles south-south-west from that of 
Wardikes stood a Roman camp now called Harefaulds. This camp 
commanded a large extent of Angus. 

The country below the Siedlaw hills on the north side of the 
Estuary of Tay was guarded by a Roman camp near Invergourie^ 
which had a communication on the north-east with the camp at Hare- 
faulds. This camp, which was about two hundred yards square, and 
fortified with a high rampart and a spacious ditch, stood about two 
miles west from Dundee. At Fordun, about twelve miles north-east 
from Wardikes, stood another Roman station. The site of this camp 
as near the mansion house of Fordun, and about a mile south-south- east 
of the church of Fordun. The Luther water, which is here only a 
rivulet, ran formerly through the west side of this camp ; and on the 
east side of it, there are several springs. This camp is called by the 
country people the West Camp. From Fordun, north-east, eleven 
miles, and from the passage of the Dee at Mary-Culter, south, six 
miles, stood the great camp caUeJ Raedikes, upon the estate of Urie. 
This station commanded the narrow country, between the north-east 
and of the Grampian liills and tlie sea, as well as the angle of land 


lying between the Dee and the sea. From Fordiin, about four and a 
half miles west-north-west, there was a Roman post at Clattering 
bridge, now known by the name of the Green castle, which guarded the 
passage tlirough the Grampian mountains, by the Cairn-o-mount into 
the valley of the Mearns. This post stood on a precipitous bank, on 
the north-east of the Clatteringburn : the area of the part within the 
ramparts, measures one hundred and thirty-seven feet nine inches, at 
the north-east end, and at the south-west, eighty-two feet six inches ; 
the length is two hundred and sixty-two feet six inches. The ditch is 
thirty-seven feet six inches broad at the bottom, and the rampart 
which is wholly of earth, is in height, from the bottom of the ditch, 
fifty-one feet nine inches. The commanding station at Glenmailen, with 
its subsidiary posts, protected and secured the country from the Dee to 
the Moray Frith, comprehending the territories of the Taixali and 
(he Vacomagi. 

From the details which have heen given of the Roman roads, and 
the different stations selected by the Romans, for securing and defend- 
ing their conquests in the north, some idea may be formed of the skill 
with which the conquerors of the world, carried on their warlike 
operations, in the most distant countries ; and of that prudent foresight 
by which they guarded against the many contingencies inseparable 
from a state of war, or insecure and dubious repose. It will be evident 
to those who are well acquainted with the different lines and stations, 
of the Roman posts before enumerated, that at the time we are treating 
ofj it was not possible to select situations better fitted to answer the 
ends, which the Romans had in view, than those we have pointed out. 
It seems quite unnecessary and unprofitable to enter into any discus- 
gioji of the historical controversy, as to whether these roads and stations 
were constructed in the same age, or in other words, whether the 
Roman remains in North Britain, are to be attributed altogether to 
Agricold. The fact is, there do not appear sufficient data in history 
to arrive at any certain conclusions. Yet it seems scarcely possible, as 
some antiquarians have maintained, that all these roads, and important 
stations could have heen finished during the period of Agi'icola's 
government in Britain. It seems probable, that many roads were 
made, and stations erected during the able administration of liollius 

Whether the Romans had grown weary of keeping up such an ex- 
tended line of posts in North Britain, or found it impracticable any 
/onger to retain them, or that they required to concentrate their 
strength in the south, they resolved to abandon their conquests to the 
north of Antoninus' wall, and, accordingly in the year one hundred and 
seventy, they evacuated the whole of the country beyond that wall 
without molestation. 

The Caledonians being thus relieved from tlie presence of their for- 
midable foes, now prepared for offensive operations ; but it was not until 
tlie year one hundred and eighty-five, during the misgoveruraent of 


Commodus, that their hostility began to alarm the Romans. Some of 
their tribes passed the wall that year and pillaged the country, but 
they were driven back by Ulpius Marcellus. A few years afterwards 
the Caledonians renewed the attack but were kept in check by Virius 
Lupus, with whom they entered into a treaty in the year two hundred. 
But this treaty was not of long continuance, for the Caledonians again 
took the field in two hundred and seven. These proceedings made 
Severus hasten from Rome to Britain in the following year; on hearing 
of whose arrival the tribes sent deputies to him to negotiate for peace, 
but the emperor, who was of a warlike disposition, and fond of military 
glory, declined to entertain any proposals. 

After making the necessary preparations, Severus began his march 
in the year two hundred and nine to the north. He traversed tha 
whole of North Britain from the wall of Antoninus to the very 
extremity of the island with an immense army. The Caledonians 
avoided coming to a general engagement with him, but kept up 
an incessant and harassing warfare on all sides. He, however, 
brought them to sue for peace ; but the honours of this campaign 
were dearly earned, for fifty thousand of the Romans fell a prey 
to the attacks of the Caledonians, to fatigue, and the severity of 
the climate. The Caledonians soon disregarded the treaty which they 
had entered into with Severus, which conduct so irritated him that 
he gave orders to renew the war, and to spare neither age nor 
sex ; but his son, Caracalla, to whom the execution of these orders was 
entrusted, was more intent in plotting against his father and brother 
than in executing the revengeful mandate of the dying emperor, whose 
demise took place at York on the 4th February, two hundred and 
eleven, in the sixty- sixth year of bis age, and in the tliiid year of 
his administration in Britain. 

It was not consistent with the policy by which Caracalla was actu- 
ated, to continue a war with the Caledonians ; for the scene of his ambi- 
tion lay in Rome, to which he made hasty preparations to depart on the 
death of his father. He therefore entered into a treaty with the Cale- 
donians by which he gave up the territories surrendered by them to 
his father, and abandoned the forts erected by him in their fastnesses. 
The whole country north of the wall of Antoninus appears in fact to 
have been given up to the undisputed possession of the Caledonians, 
and we hear of no more incursions by them till the reign of the em- 
peror Constans, who came to Britain in the year three hundred and 
six, to repel the Caledonians and other Picts.* Their incursions were 

• The first writer who mentions the Picts is Eumeniiis, the orator, who was a Pro- 
fessor at Autun, and who, in a panegjTic pronounced by him in the year 297, and again 
in 308, alludes to the Caledoiies aliiqiie Picti. From this it is evident that he considered 
the Caledonians and the Picts as the same people. Ammianus Marcellinus, speaking of 
them at the end of the fourth century, sayS; Lib. xxvii. ch. vii. " Eo tempore Picti io 
duas gentes divisi, Uicaledones et Vectuiiones." It is now admitted, even by these 
antiquaries who take the most opposite views on the origin of these people, that they 
were not distinct nations but the same people distinguished merely by their names. 
I. K 


repelled by the Roman legions under Constantias, and they remained 
quiot till about the year three hundred and forty-three when they 
again entered the territories of the provincial Britons ; but they were 
compelled, it is said, again to retreat by Constans. 

Although these successive inroads had been always repelled by the 
superior power and discipline of the Romans, the Caledonians of the 
fourth century no longer considered them in the formidable light they 
had been viewed by their ancestors, and their genius for war improv- 
ing every time they came in hostile contact with their enemies, they 
meditated the dosign of expelling the intruders altogether from the 
soil of North Britain. The wars which the Romans had to sustain 
against the Persians in the east, and against the Germans on the fron- 
tiers of Gaul favoured their plan ; and having formed a treaty with 
the Scots they, in conjunction with their new allies, invaded the Roman 
territories and committed many depredations. Julian, who commanded 
the Roman army on the Rhine,despatched Lupicinus, an able military 
commander, to defend the province against the Scots and Picts, but ho 
does not appear to have been very successful in opposing them. 

As the Scots appear for the first time upon the stage, it will be 
necessary to give some account of them. The question which has been 
so keenly discussed between the antiquaries of Scotland and Ireland 
whether the Scots were indigenous Britons, or merely emigrants from 
Ireland, has long been set at rest, as it has been demonstrated beyond 
the possibility of doubt that they came originally from that island. 
But, on the other hand, it has been equally demonstrated that the Scots 
of Ireland, or the ScoticcB gentes of Porphyry, as a branch of the great 
Celtic family, passed over at a very early period from the shores of 
Britain into Ireland, and before the beginning of the fifth century, had 
given their name to the whole of that country. Their name, however, 
does not occur in the Roman annals till the year three hundi-ed and 
sixty. All the authors of this age agree that Ireland was the proper 
country of the Scots, and that they invaded the Roman territories 
in North Britain about the last mentioned epoch, Ammianus, in 
the year three hundred and sixty-seven, mentions the Scots as 
an erratic or wandering people, who carried on a predatory system of 
warfare, and other contemporary authors speak of them as a trans- 
marine people who came from Ireland, their native island. Of this 
fact there can be no doubt, and it is equally certain that Ireland was 
the ancient Scottca of the Romans. It was not till the year one 
thousand and twenty that the name of Scotia was given to North 

The Picts or Caledonians and Scots being joined by another ally — 
the Attacots, a warlike clan which had settled on the shores of Dum- 
barton and Cowal, from the opposite coast of Ireland — made another 
attack on the Roman possessions in Britain in the year three hundred 
and sixty-four, on the accession of Valentinian. It required all the 
ralour and skill of the celebrated Theodosius, who was sent to Britain 

koman abdication. 36 

in the year three hundred and sixty-seven, to repel this aggression and 
to repair the great ravages committed by the invaders. Having been 
successful in clearing the whole country between the walls, he made it 
the fifth province in Britain, to which Valentinian gave the name of 
Valentia in honour of Valens, whom he liad associated with him in 
the empire. The successes of Tlieodosius insured a peaceful pause of 
nearly thirty years, but in tliree hundred and ninety-eight the Cale- 
donians or Picts and Scots again renewed their attacks which they 
continued from time to time. At length, in the year four hundred 
and forty-six, during the Consulate of ^stius, the Romans, unable any 
longer to keep their possessions in North Britain, intimated to the Pro- 
vincials that they could give them no further assistance in resisting 
the Scots and Picts, abdicated the government, and left them to pro- 
tect themselves. 


Poeti'y of the Celts — Antiquity and Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian. 

No question of literary controversy has been discussed with greater 
acrimony and pertinacity, than tliAt regarding the authenticity of the 
poems of Ossian, and never did Saxon and Gael exhibit more bitter en- 
mity in mortal strife than has been shown by the knights of the pen in 
their different rencontres in the field of antiquarian research. We have 
no wish to revive a controversy, in regard to which in is scarcely possible 
to add any thing new ; but holding as we do the authenticity of tliese 
poems, we shall adduce briefly the arguments in their favour as well as 
those which have been urged against them ; leaving to the reader, whose 
mind has not yet been made up upon the subject, to draw his own con- 
clusions. But it seems really to be a matter of little importance whether 
the poems from which Macpherson translated, or any part of them were 
actually composed by Ossian or not, or at what period the poet flourished, 
whether in the third, or fourth, or fifth centuries. It is, we apprehend, 
quite sufficient to show that tliese poems are of high antiquity, and that 
they belong to a very remote era. 

One of the most remarkable traits in the character of the Celtic 
tribes, *vas their strong attachment to poetry, by means of which they 
not only animated themselves to battle, but braved death with joy in 
the hope of meeting again their brave ancestors who had fallen in bat- 
lie. Either unacquainted with letters, or despising tliem as unworthy 
of a warlike race, the ancient Celts set apart the Bards, whose business 
it was to compose and recite in verse the military actions of tlieir 
heroes or chiefs, and by the same means they sought to preserve the 
memory of theii laws, religion and historical annals, which would other- 
wise have been buried in oblivion, " When the Celts," says Posodonius, 
" go to war, they take with tliem associates whom they call Parasites 
who sing their praises, either in public assemblies, or to those wlio wisli 
to hear them privately. These poets are called Bards.'' It is well known 
that the Druids to whom the education of the Celtic youth was com- 
mitted, spent many years in committing to memory the compositions 
of the Bards. TJiis peculiarity was not confined to any one of tlie 
Celtic nations, but prevailed imivcrsally among them. The Bards, ac- 
cording to Buchanan, were held in great honour botli among tlic Gauls 


and Britons, and he observes that their function and name remained in 
his time amongst all those nations which used the old British tongue. 
" They," he adds, " compose poems, and those not inelegant, which the 
rhapsodists recite, either to the better sort, or to the vulgar, who are 
very desirous to hear them ; and sometimes they sing them to musical 
instruments." And in speaking of the inhabitants of the Hebrides or 
Western islands, he says that they sing poems " not inelegant, contain- 
ing commonly the eulogies of valiant men ; and their bards usually treat 
of no other subject." 

Thus the existence of bards from the most remote period among the 
Celtic population of Scotland is undoubted; and some ideaof their import- 
ance may be formed from the following observations from the elegant 
and classical pen of a distinguished scholar. " Although it is well known 
that the Scots had always more strength and industry to perform great 
deeds, than care to have them published to the world ; yet, in ancient 
times, they had, and held in great esteem, their own Homers and 
Maros whom they named bards. These recited the achievements of 
their brave warriors in heroic measures, adapted to the musical notes 
of the harp ; with these they roused the minds of those present to the 
glory of virtue, and transmitted patterns of fortitude to posterity. 
This order of men still exists among the Welsh and ancient Scots 
(the Highlanders), and they still retain that name (bards) in their native 
language."* So formidable were they considered in rousing the pas- 
sions against the tyranny of a foreign yoke, by their strains, that Ed- 
ward I. adopted the cruel policy of extirpating the order of the Welsh 
bards about the end of the thirteenth century. They continued, how- 
ever, to exist in England down to the reign of Queen Elizabeth, " till 
which period," as Dr. Graham observes, " there was a regular public 
competition of harpers maintained; and there is, at this day, as Mr. 
Pennant informs us, in his tour through Wales, a silver harp, awarded 
during that period, in the possession of the Mostyn family." 

The Bardic order was preserved longer in Scotland than in any 
other country, for it was not till the year 172G, when Niel Macvuirich 
the last of the bards died, that the race became extinct. He, and his 
ancestors had for several generations exercised the office of bard in the 
family of Clanranald.f Every great Highland family had their bard, 

* " Quamvis intelligunt omnes plus semper virium et industriae Scotis fuisse ad res 
gerendas, quam coimnentationis ad prsedicandas, habuenint tamen antiquitus, et coluenint 
suos Homeros et Marones, quos Bardoa nominabant. Hi fortiuin virorum facta versi- 
hus heroicis et lyrae modulis aptata concinebant; qiiibus et pra^sentiura animos acuebant 
ad virtutis gloriam, et fortitudinis exempla ad posteros traiismittebant. Cujusmodi 
apud Cambros et priscos Scotos nee dum desiere ; et nomen illiid patrio scrmone adhuc 
retinent." J. Johnston in Prafat. ad Hist. Scot. 

f The following cui-ious and interesting declaration of Lachlan IVIac Vuirich, son of 
Niel, taken by desire of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland, appointed 
to inquiie into the natiu'e and authenticity of the poems of Ossian, will throw much 
light on the bai'dic office. 

In the house of Patrick TSJicolson, at Torlum, near Castle Burgh, in the shivo of In- 
vernesson the ninth day of August, compeared, in the fifty-ninth year of his .'ige, T.ach- 


whose principal business was to amuse the chieftain and his friends by 
reciting at entertainments, the immense stores of poetry which he had 
hoarded up in his memory, besides which he also preserved the gene- 
alogy, and recorded the achievements of the family which were thus tradi- 
tionally and successively handed down from generation to generation. 
At what particular period of time the Caledonian bards began to re- 
duce their compositions to writing, cannot now be ascertained; but it 
seems to be pretty evident that no such practice existed in the Ossianic 
age, nor, indeed, for several centui'ies afterwards. To oral tradition, 

Ian, son of Niel, son of Lachlan, son of Niel, son of Donald, son of Lachlan, son of 
Niel Mar, son of Lachlan, son of Donald, of the sirname of JNIac Vuirich, before Ro- 
derick M'Neil, Esq. of Barra, and declared. That, according to the best of his know- 
ledge, he is the eighteenth in descent from Muireach, whose posterity had officiated as 
bards to the family of Clanranald ; and that they had from that time, as the salary of 
their office, the fai-m of Staoiligary, and four pennies of Drimisdale, during fifteen gen- 
erations; that the sixteenth descendant lost the four pennies of Drimisdale, but that the 
seventeenth descendant retained the farm of Staoiligary for nineteen years of his life. 
That there was a right given them over these lands, as long as there should be any of 
the posterity of Muireach to preserve and continue the genealogy and history of the 
Macdonalds, on condition that the bard, failing of male issue, was to educate hia 
brother's son, or representative, in order to preserve their title to the lands ; and that it 
was in pursuance of this custom that his own father, Niel, had been taught to read anj 
WTite history and poetry by Donald, son of Niel, son of Donald, his father's brother. 

He remembers well that works of Ossian \vi'itten on parchment, wei'e in the custody 
of his father, as received from his predecessors; that some of the parchments were made 
up in the form of books, and that others were loose and separate, which contained the 
works of other bards besides those of Ossian. 

He remembers that his father had a book, which was called the Red Booh made of 
paper, which he had from his predecessors, and which, as his father informed him, con- 
tained a good deal of the history of the Highland clans, together with part of the works 
ot Ossian. That none of those books are to be found at this day, because when they 
(liis family) were deprived of their lands, they lost their alacrity and zeal. That he is 
not certain what became of the parchments, but tliiziks that some of tliem were carried 
away by Alexander, son of the Rev. Alexander Macdonald, and others by Ronald liis 
son; and he saw two or three of them cut down by tailors for measures. That he 
remembers well that Clanranald made his father give up the red book to Jan^os 
Macpherson from Badenoch; that it was near as thick as a Bible, but that it was 
longer and broader, though not so thick in the cover. That the parchments and the red 
book were written in the hand in which the Gaelic used to be written of old both in 
Scotland and Ireland, before people began to use the English hand in ^vTiting Gaelic; 
and that his lather knew well how to read the old hand. That he himself had some of 
the parchments after his fat'ier's death, but tliat because he had not been taught to read 
them, and had no reason to set any value upon them, they were lost. He says that 
none of his forefathers had the name of Paul, but that there were two of them who were 
called Cathal. 

He says that the red l)ook was not wTitten by one man, but that it was written fi-om 
age to age by the fjxmilyof Clan MJuiirich, who were preserving and continuing the his- 
tory of the Macdonalds, and of other heads of Higlilan*' clans. 

After the above declaration was taken down, it was read to him, and he acknowledged 
it was right, in presence of Donald M'Donald of Balrouald, .Tames M'Donald of Garj'- 
helich, Ewan M'Donald of Griminish, Alexander INI' Lean of lioster, Mr. Alexander 
Nicolson, minister of Benbecula, and Mr. Allan IM' Queen, minister of North- Li:;t, 
who wrote this declaration. 

I/Af'Hi.AN \ Mac Vi.'inirii. 

RoDRiacK Ma<; Ntki., .1. V. 


therefore, as conveyed througli the race of bards, are we indebted for the 
precious remains of Gaelic song which have reached us. But although 
the bards were the depositories of the muses, there were not wanting 
many who delighted to store their memories with the poetical effusions 
of the bards, and to recite them to their friends. The late captain 
.Tohn Macdonald of Breakish, a native of the island of Skye, declared 
upon oath, at the age of seventy-eight, that he could repeat, when a 
boy between twelve or fifteen years of age (about the year 1740), from 
one to two hundred Gaelic poems differing in length and in number of 
verses ; and that he had learned them from an old man about eighty 
years of age, who sung them for years to his father, when he went to 
bed at night, and in the spring and winter before he rose in the morn- 
hig.* The late Reverend Dr. Stuart, minister of Luss, knew an old 
highlander in the isle of Skye, who repeated to him for three suc- 
cessive days, and during several hours each day, without hesitation, 
and with the utmost rapidity many thousand lines of ancient poetry, 
and would have continued his repetitions much longer, if t*he Doctor 
had required him to do so. 

A curious illustration of the attachment of the highlanders to their an- 
cient poetry and the preference given to it above all other literary pursuits, 
is given by Bishop Carsewell, in his preface to the translation into Gaelic of 
the forms of prayer and administration of the sacraments and catechism of 
the Christian religion, as used in the reformed church of Scotland, printed 
at Edinburgh in the year 1567, a work little known and extremely 
scarce. " But there is" says Bishop Carsewell, "one great disadvan- 
tage, which we the Gael of Scotland and Ireland labour under, beyond 
the rest of the world, that our Gaelic language has never yet been 
printed, as the language of every other race of men has been. And we 
labour under a disadvantage which is still greater than every other dis- 
advantage, that we have not the Holy Bible printed in Gaelic, as it has 
been printed in Latin and in English, and in every other language; 
and also, that we have never yet had any account printed of the anti- 
quities of our country, or of our ancestors ; for though we have some 
accounts of the Gael of Scotland and Ireland, contained in manuscripts 
and in the genealogies of bards and historiographers, yet there is great 
labour in writing them over with the hand, whereas the work which is 
printed, be it ever so great, is speedily finished. And great is the 
blindness and sinful darkness and ignorance and evil design of such as 
teach, and write, and cultivate the Gaelic language that, with the view 
of obtaining for themselves the vain rewards of this world, they are 
more desirous and more accustomed to compose vain, tempting, lying, 
worldly histories, concerning the Tuatha de dannan, and concerning war- 
riors and champions, and Fingal the son of Cumhall with his heroes 
and concerning many others which I will not at present enumerate or 

* Appendix No. I. to the edition of Ossian, published tinder the sanction of tlie 
Highland Society of London. 


mention, in order to maintain or reprove, than to write and teach, and 
maintain the faithftd words of God, and of the perfect way of truth." 
This attachment continued unabated till about the middle of the 
last century, when the measures of government produced a change in 
many of the ancient habits. " Before this period, the recitation of 
that poetry (the ancient poetry of the Highlands,) was the universal 
amusement of every winter fire-side."* 

That such a vast collection of Gaelic poetry, as that which has reached 
us, should have been handed down by oral tradition may appear extra- 
ordinary to those who have not sufficiently reflected on the power of 
the human memory, when applied and confined to the acquisition of 
those sublime and lofty effusions of poetic fancy in which the High- 
landers took such delight, as to supersede all other mental pursuits. 
The mere force of habit in persons who, from their childhood, have 
been accustomed to hear recitals often repeated, which delighted them, 
will make an indelible impression, not confined to the ideas suggested, 
or to the images which float in the imagination, as reflected from the 
mirror of the mind, but extending to the very words themselves. It 
was not, therefore, without good reason that the Highland Society 
observe in their Report, already quoted, "that the power of memory in 
persons accustomed from their infancy to such repetitions, and who are 
unable to assist or to injure it by writing, must not be judged of by 
any ideas or any experience possessed by those who have only seen its 
exercise in ordinary life. Instances of such miraculous powers of me- 
mory, as they may be styled by us, are known in most countries 
where the want of writing, like the want of a sense, gives an almost 
supernatural force to those by which that privation is supplied." Mr 
Wood, in his Essay on the original writings and genius of Homer, 
remarks, with great justice, that we cannot, in this age of dictionaries 
and other technical aids to memory, judge what her use and powers 
were at a time when all a man could know was all he could remember, 
and when the memory was loaded with nothing either useless or unin- 
telligible. The Arabs, who are in the habit of amusing their hours 
of leisure by telling and listening to tales, will remember them though 
very long, and rehearse them with great fidelity after one hearing. -j- 

Besides these and other reasons in favour of the oral transmission of 
the Gaelic poetry, to which we shall afterwards allude, one more im- 
portant consideration, as far as we can ascertain, has been entirely 
overlooked, namely, that to insure a correct transmission of the poems in 
question, through the medium of oral traaition, it was by no means 
necessary that one or more individuals should be able to recite all oi 
them. To secure their existence it was only necessary that particular 
persons should be able to recite with accuracy such parts as they might 
have committed to memory so as to communicate them to others. 
Doubtless there woidd be great differences in the powers of acquisition 

• Report of the Committee of the Highland Society of Scotland on Ossian's pooms. 
t Acerbi'a Remarks on La^jiand. 


and retention in different persons, but we have no idea that one person 
could carry in his memory the whole poetry of Ossian. We kriow, 
indeed, a gentleman who says, that if the works of Homer were lost, 
he could almost supply the Iliad and Odyssey from memory ; but, al- 
though we are disposed to be rather sceptical on this subject, we have 
no doubt that if the poems of Burns ceased to exist on paper, every 
word could be supplied by thousands from mere memory. 

Besides these arguments in support of oral tradition, the following 
reasons are given by the Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair, Baronet,* 
in support of the preservation of the Poems of Ossian through that 
medium: 1, The beauty of the poetry, of which it is impossible to 
form an adequate idea from any translation hitherto given ; 2, The 
partiality which the Highlanders naturally entertained for songs, which 
contained the traditional history of the greatest heroes, in the ancient 
annals of their country ; 3, It is to be observed that the Bards were 
for a long time a distinct class or caste, whose whole business it was, 
either to compose verses themselves, or to recite the poetry of others ; 
4, Though the poems were not composed in rhyme, yet there was an 
emphasis laid upon particular syllables of a particular sound in every 
line, which greatly assisted the memory; 3, The verses were set to 
particular music, by which the remembrance of the words was greatly 
facilitated ; and, 6, The Highlanders, at their festivals and other public 
meetings, acted the poems of Ossian, and on such occasions, those who 
could repeat the greatest number of verses were liberally rewarded. 
What also tended greatly to preserve the recollection of the Gaelic 
poetry, was a practice followed by the Highlanders of going by turns 
to each others houses in every village during the winter season, and 
reciting or hearing recited or sung the poems of Ossian, and also 
poems and songs ascribed to other bards. 

The first person who made a collection of Gaelic poetry was the 
Reverend John Farquharson, a Jesuit missionary in Strathglass, about 
the year 1 745, of which collection some interesting information will be 
afterwards given. 

Alexander Macdonald, a schoolmaster at Ardnamurchan, was the 
next who made a collection of Gaelic poetry, which was published in 
Gaelic at Edinburgh, in the year 1751. In an English preface Mac- 
donald assigns two reasons for the publication; 1, That it may raise a 
desire to learn something of the Gaelic language, which he states may 
be found to contain in its bosom the charms of poetry and rhetoric ; 
and, 2, To bespeak the favour of the public to a great collection of 
poems, in all kinds of poetry that have been in use among the most 
cultivated nations, with a translation into English verse, and critical 
observations on the nature of such writings, to render the work useful 
to those who do not understand the Gaelic language. 

Jerome Stone, a native of the county of Fife, and who had acquired 

* Dissertation on the autlionticity of Ossian's Poems, p. GO 
I. F 


a knowledge of the Gaelic lang-uage during some years' residence in 
Dunkeld, where he kept a school, was the third person who collected 
several of the ancient poems of the Highlands, and was the fii'st person 
who especially called public attention to the beauty of these poems in a 
letter which he addressed " To the Author of the Scots Magazine,'** 
accompanied with a translation in rhyme of one of them, both of which 
appeared in that periodical in January, 1 756. A s Stone was only twenty 
or twenty- one years of age when he made this translation, and being 
besides in an obscure situation, and with few opportunities of cultivating 
his native genius or talents, he could not be supposed capable of giving 
a very happy or impressive translation of Gaelic poetiy, especially when 
fettered with rhyme, which, even in the ablest hands, and those most 
accustomed to the construction of English verse, affords always an un- 
faithful, and generally an imperfect transcript of ancient poetry. His 
place of residence, too, was unfavourable either to the acquirement of 
pure Gaelic, or the collection of the best copies of the ancient poetry 
of the Highlands.-]- 

The next and most noted collector of Gaelic poetry was the cele- 
brated James Macpherson, whose spirited translations, or forgeries, as 
some writers maintain, have consigned his name to immortality in tht» 
literary world. The circumstances which gave rise to this collection 
were as follow : — In the summer of 1759, John Home, the author of 
Douglas, having met Mr. Macpherson at Moffat, learned from him in 
conversation that he was possessed of some pieces of ancient Gaelic 
poetry in the original, one or two of which Mr, Home expressed a 
desire to see an English translation of as a specimen. Accordingly Mr. 
M acpherson furnished Mr. Home with two fragments which the latter very 
much admired, and which he sometime thereafter showed to the celebrated 

• As the letter in question is curious, and displays considerable talent, it is here given 
entire: — 

Dunkeld, Nov. loth, 1755. 

Sir, — Those who have any tolerable acquaintance with the Irish language must 
know, that there are a great number of poetical compositions in it, and some of them of 
\ery gi'eat antiquity, whose merit entitles them to an exemption from the unfortunate 
neglect, or rather abhorrence, to which ignorance has subjected that emphatic language 
in which they were composed. Several of these performances are to be met with, which, 
for sublimity of sentiment, nervousness of expression, and high spirited metaphor, are 
liardly to be equalled among the chief productions of the most cultivated nations. 
Others of them breathe such tenderness and simplicity, as must be affecting to every 
mind that is in the least tinctured with the softer passions of pity and humanity. Of 
this kind is the poem of which I here send you a translation. Your learned readera 
win easily discover the conformity there is betwixt the tale upon which it is built, and 
t he story of Belerophon, as related by Homer ; while it will be no small gi-atitication to 
the curiosity of some, to see the different manner in which a subject of the same nature 
is handled by the great father of poetry and a Highland bard. It is hoped the uncom- 
mon turn of several expressions, and the seeming extravagance there is in some of the 
comparisons I have observed in the translation, will give no offence to such persons aa 
can form a just notion of those compositions which are the productions of simple and 
unassisted genius, in wh'ch energy is always more sought after than neatness, and the 
strictness of connexion less adverted to than the design of moving the passions and 
affecting the heart — I am, &c. 
t Report of Highland Soriety referred to. 


Dr. Hugh Blair and other literary friends, as valuable curiosities. The 
Doctor, as well as Mr. Home, was so struck with the high spirit of 
poetry which breathed in them, that he immediately requested an inter- 
view with Macpherson, and having learned from him, that, besides the 
few pieces of Gaelic poetry which he had in his possession, greater and 
more considerable poems of the same strain were to be found in the 
Highlands, and were well known to the natives there ; Dr. Blair urged 
him to translate the other pieces which he had, and bring them to him, 
promising that he. Dr. Blair, would take care to circulate and bring 
them out to the public, to whom they well deserved to be made kno\vn. 
Dr. Blair informs us that Macpherson was extremely reluctant and 
.iverse to comply with his request, saying, that no translation of his 
could do justice to the spirit and force of the original ; and that besides 
injuring them by translation, he apprehended that they would be very ill 
relished by the public as being so different from the strain of modern 
ideas and of modern, correct, and polished poetry. It was not till 
after much and repeated importunity on the part of Dr. Blair, and 
after he had represented to Macpherson the injustice he would do to 
his native country by keeping concealed those hidden treasures, which, 
he was assured, if brought forth, would serve to enrich the whole 
learned world, that he was at length prevailed upon to translate and 
bring to the Reverend Doctor the several poetical pieces which he had 
in his possession. These were published in a small volume at Edin- 
burgh in the year 1760, under the title of Fragments of Ancient Poetry 
collected in the Highlands of Scotland ; to which Dr. Blair prefixed an 
introduction. " These Fragments,'' says Dr. Blair, " drew much at- 
tention and excited, among all persons of taste and letters, an earnest 
desire to recover if possible, all those considerable remains of Gaelic 
poetry which were said still to exist in the Highlands."* 

Several eminent literary men of the day were extremely desirous to 
have these literary treasures immediately collected; and Mr. Macpherson 
was spoken to on the subject and urged by several persons to under- 
take the search ; but he showed, extreme unwillingness to engage in it, 
representing to them his diffidence of success and of public approbation, 
and the difficulty and expensiveness of such a search as was requisite 
throughout the remote Highlands. A t length, to encourage him to under- 
take it, a meeting was brought together at a dinner, to which Mr. Mac- 
pherson was invited ; and Dr. Blair, from whom this account is taken, 
says he had a chief hand in convoking there many of the first per- 
sons of rank and taste in Edinburgh. Patrick, Lord Elibank, took a 
great lead at that meeting, together with Principal Robertson the 
Historian, Mr. John Home, Dr. Adam Ferguson and many others, 
who were all very zealous for forwarding the proposed discovery ; and 
after much conversation with Mr. Macpherson, it was agreed that he 

• I^etterfrom Dr. Blair to Heiiry Mackenzie Esq., in Appendix to Highland Society's 
Report refeiTed to. ' 


should disengage himself from all other employment, and set out witli^ 
out delay on this poetical mission through the Highlands ; but, as his 
circumstances did not admit of his engaging in this at his own expense, 
that the whole expense he might incur was to be defrayed by a col- 
lection raised from the meeting with the aid of such other friends as 
they might choose to apply to for that purpose. When this meeting 
was about breaking up, Mr. Macpherson followed Dr. Blair to the door 
and told him, that from the spirit of the meeting, he now, for tlie first 
time, entertained the hope that the undertaking to which he had so 
often prompted him would be attended with success ; that hitherto he 
had imagined they were merely romantic ideas which the Doctor had 
held out to him, but now he saw them likely to be realized, and should 
endeavour to exert himself so as to give satisfaction to all his friends. 

Under this patronage Mr. Macpherson set out on his literary journey 
to the Highlands in the year 1760 ; and during his tour he transmitted 
from time to time to Dr. Blair and his other literary friends, accounts 
of his progress in collecting, from many different and remote parts, all 
the remains he could find of ancient Gaelic poetry, either in writing or 
by oral tradition. In the course of his journey he wrote two letters to 
ihe Rev. James M'Lagan, formerly minister of Amalrie, afterwards of 
Blair in Atliole, which, as they throw much light on the subject of these 
poems, and particularly on the much contested question, whether JVIac- 
pherson ever collected any manuscripts, are given entire. The first of tliese 
letters is dated from Ruthven, 27th October, 1760, and is as follows : — 

" Rev. Sir, — You perhaps have heard, that I am employed to make 
a collection of the ancient poetry in the Gaelic. I have already tra- 
versed most of the Isles, and gathered all worth notice in that quarter. 
I intend a joui-ney to Mull and the coast of Argyle, to enlarge my col- 

*'By letters from Edinburgh, as well as gentlemen of your acquaint- 
ance, I am informed, that you have a good collection of poems of the 
kind I want. It would be, therefore, very obliging should you transmit 
me them as soon as convenient, that my book might be rendered more 
complete, and more for the honour of our old poetry. Traditions are 
uncertain ; poetry delivered down from memory must lose considerably ; 
and it is a matter of surprise to me, how we have now any of the beauties 
of our ancient Gaelic poetry remaining, 

"Your collection, I am informed, is pure, as you have taken pains to 
restore the style. I shall not make any apology for this trouble, as it 
will be for the honour of our ancestors, how many of their pieces of 
genius will be brought to light. / have met with a number of old manu- 
scripts in my travels; the poetical part of them I have endeavoured to 

" If any of that kind falls within your hearing, I beg it of you, to have 
them in sight. 

" I shall probably do myself the pleasure of waiting on you before I 
return to Edinburgli.' Your correspondence in tlie meantime will be 

macpherson's tour through the highlands. 45 

very agreeable. You will excuse this trouble from an entire stranger, 
and believe me, &c. (Signed) James M'Plierson. 

" Inform me of what you can of the tradition of the poems : direct 
to me by Ediiiburgli and Ruthven, inclosed to Mr. Macpherson, post- 
master here." 

The second letter is dated from Edinburgh, 16tli January, 1761, and 
runs thus : — 

" Rev, Sir, — I was favoured with your letter inclosing the Gaelic 
poems, for which I hold myself extremely obliged to you, Duan a 
Ghairibh is less poetical and more obscure than Teantach mor jia Peine. 
The last is far from being a bad poem, were it complete, and is parti- 
cularly valuable for the ancient manners it contains. I shall reckon 
myself much obliged to you for any other pieces you can send me. It 
is true I have the most of them from other hands, but the misfortune 
is, that I find none expert in the Irish orthography, so that an obscure 
poem is rendered doubly so, by their uncouth way of spelling. It 
would have given me real pleasure to have got your letter before I left 
the Highlands, as in that case I would have done myself the pleasure 
of waiting on you ; but I do not despair but something may soon cast 
up that may bring about an interview, as I have some thoughts of 
making a jaunt to Perthshire. Be that, however, as it will, I shall be 
always glad of your correspondence ; and hope that you will give me 
all convenient assistance in my present undertaking. 

^^ 1 have been lucky enough to lay iny hands on a 'pretty complete poem, 
and truly epic, concerning Fingal, The antiquity of it is easily ascer- 
tained, and it is not only superior to any thing in that language, but 
reckoned not inferior to the more polite performances of other nations 
in that way. I have some thoughts of publishing the original, if it 
will not clog the work too much. 

" I shall be always ready to acknowledge the obligation you have laid 
upon me, and promise I will not be ungrateful for further favours. — 
It would give me pleasure to know how I can serve you, as I am, &c. 

(Signed) " James M'Pherson." 

The districts through which Mr. Macpherson travelled were chiefly 
the north-western parts of Inverness-shire, the Isle of Skye, and some 
of the adjoining islands ; " places, from their remoteness and state of 
manners at that period, most likely to afford, in a pure and genuine 
state, the ancient traditionary tales and poems, of which the recital 
then formed, as the Committee has before stated, the favourite amuse- 
ment of the long and idle winter evenings of the Highlanders."* 
Before returning to Edinburgh Mr. Macpherson paid a visit to an early 
acquaintance, the Rev. Andrew Gallic, then missionary at Badenoch, 
who was a proficient in the Gaelic language, to whom, and to Mr. 
Macpherson of Strathmashie in Badenoch, he exhibited the poems and 
manuscripts which he had collected during his tour. " They consisted," 

* Report of the Committee of the HiglJand Society. 


says Mr. Gallie, " of several volumes, small octavo, or rather larg^ 
duodecimo, in the Gaelic language and characters, being the poems of 
Ossian, and other ancient bards. I remember perfectly," continues the 
Reverend Gentleman, " that many of those volumes were, at the close, 
said to have been collected by Paul Macmhuirich, Bard Clanraonuil, 
and about the beginning of the 14th century. Mr. Macpherson and 1 
were of opinion, that though the bard collected them, yet that they must 
have been writ by an ecclesiastic, for the characters and spelling were 
most beautiful and correct. Every poem had its first letter of its first 
word most elegantly floui'ished and gilded, some red, some yellow, some 
blue, and some green : the material writ on seemed to be a limber yet 
coarse and dark vellum ; the volumes were bound in strong parchment • 
Mr. Macpherson had them from Clanronald."* Mr. Macpherson, on the 
occasion of his visit to Mr. Gallie. availed himself of the able assistance 
of that gentleman, and of his namesake Mr. Macpherson of Strath- 
mashie, in collating the different editions or copies of the poems he had 
collected, and in translating difficult passages and obsolete words. 

On his return to Edinburgh from his poetical tour, Mr. JNIacpherson 
took lodgings in a house at the head of Blackfriars' Wynd, immediately 
below that possessed by his chief patron, Dr. Blair, and immediately set 
about translating from the Gaelic into English. He soon afterwards, 
VIZ., in 1761, published one volume in quarto, containing Fingal, 
an epic poem, in six books, and some other detached pieces of a similai 
kind. He published, in the year 1762, another epic poem called Te- 
MORA, of one of the books or divisions of which he annexed the original 
Gaelic, being the only specimen he ever published, though at his death 
he left Z.IOOO to defray the expense of a publication of the originals ol 
the whole of his translations, with directions to his executors for carry- 
ing that purpose into effect. Various causes contributed to delay theii 
appearance till the year 1807, when they were published under the 
sanction of the Highland Society of London. 

Such is the brief history of Alacpherson's connexion with those re- 
markable poems, which have excited the admiration of the literary 
world, and given occasion to a controversy which, for nearly half a 
century, agitated the breasts of philologists and antiquaries, and which 
even now does not seem to be set at rest ; for we find, that, in a 
modern publication, f a writer of great penetration and extensive eru- 
dition, thus speaks of these poems : " Some fragments of the songs 
of the Scottish Highlanders, of very uncertain antiquity, appear to have 
fallen into the hands of Macpherson, a young man of no mean genius, 
unacquainted with the higher criticism applied to the genuineness of 
ancient writings, and who was too much a stranger to the studious 
world to have learnt tliose refinements which extend probity to litera- 

• Letter from Mr. G-llic to Charles Macintosh, Esq., W. S., dated March liUh, 
>79l), inserted in Report referred to. 

t History of England. By tl\e ll'jjxht Honourable Sir James Mackintosh, L L. D. 
M. p., y'jL L p. 8G. 


tiire as well as to property. Elated by the praise not unjustly bestowed 
on some of these fragments, instead of insuring a general assent to them 
by a publication in their natural state, he unhappily applied his talents 
tor skilful imitation to complete poetical works in a style similar to the 
fragments, and to work them into the unsuitable shape of epic and 
dramatic poems. 

" He was not aware of the impossibility of poems, preserved only by 
tradition, being intelligible after thirteen centuries to readers who 
knew only the language of their own times ; and he did not perceive 
the extravagance of peopling the Caledonian mountains, in the fourth 
century, with a race of men so generous and merciful, so gallant, so 
mild, and so magnanimous, that the most ingenious romances of the 
age of chivalry could not have ventured to represent a single hero as 
on a level with their common virtues. He did not consider the prodi- 
gious absurdity of inserting as it were a people thus advanced in moral 
civilization between the Britons, ignorant and savage as they are painted 
by Csesar, and the Highlanders, fierce and rude as they are presented 
by the first accounts of the clironiclers of the twelfth and fourteenth 
centuries. Even the better part. of the Scots were, in the latter period, 
thus spoken of: — ' In Scotland ye shall find no man lightly of honour 
or gentleness : they be like wylde and savage people.'* The great 
historian who made the annals of Scotland a part of European litera- 
ture, had sufficiently warned his countrymen against such faults, by the 
decisive observation that their forefathers were unacquainted with the 
art of writing, which alone preserves language from total change, and 
great events from oblivion. f Macpherson was encouraged to over- 
leap these and many other improbabilities by youth, talent, and ap- 
plause : perhaps he did not at first distinctly present to his mind the 
permanence of the deception. It is more probable, and it is a suppo- 
sition countenanced by many circumstances, that after enjoying the 
pleasure of duping so many critics, he intended one day to claim the 
poems as his own ; but if he had such a design, considerable obstacles 
to its execution arose around him. He was loaded with so much praise 
that he seemed bound in honour to his admirers not to desert them. 
The support of his own country appeared to render adherence to those 
poems, which Scotland inconsiderately sanctioned, a sort of national 
obligation. Exasperated, on the other hand, by the, perhaps, unduly 
vehement, and sometimes very coarse attacks made on him, he was 
unwilling to surrender to such opponents. He involved himself at last 
so deeply as to leave him no decent retreat. Since the keen and 
searching publication of Mr. Laing, these poems have fallen in reputa- 
tion, as they lost the character of genuineness. They had been admired 
by all the nations, and by all the men of genius in Europe. The last 
incident in their story is perhaps the most remarkable. In an Italian 
version, which softened their defects, and rendered their characteristic 

• I^erner's Froisart, xi. 7. Lond. 1812. + Buchan. Rer. Scotic. lib il. in ini'to- 


qualities faint, they formed almost the whole poetical library of Napoleon, 
a man who, whatever may be finally thought of him in other respects, 
must be owned to be, by the transcendant vigour of his powers, entitled 
to a place in the first class of human minds. No other imposture in 
literary history approaches them in the splendour of their course." 

A sentence so severe and condemnatory, proceeding from an author 
of such acknowledged ability as Sir James Mackintosh, and who we pre- 
sume had fully considered the question, must have considerable effect • 
but we apprehend it is quite possible that minds of the first order may, 
even in a purely literary question, be led astray by prepossessions. 
That Macpherson endeavoured to complete some of the poetical frag- 
ments he collected, in his translation^ may, we think, be fairly admitted ; 
and, indeed, the Committee of the Highland Society, with that candour 
which distinguished their investigation in answering the second question 
to which their inquiries were directed, namely. How far the collection of 
poetry published by Mr. Macpherson was genuine, considered that point 
as rather difficult to answer decisively. The Committee reported, that 
they were inclined to believe that Mr. Macpherson " was in use to 
supply chasms, and to give connexion, by inserting passages which he 
did not find, and to add what he conceived to be dignity and delicacy 
to the original composition, by striking out passages, by softening inci« 
dents, by refining the language, in short, by changing what he con- 
sidered as too simple or too rude for a modern ear, and elevating what 
in his opinion was below the standard of good poetry. To what de- 
gree, however, he exercised these liberties it is impossible for the 
Committee to determine. The advantages he possessed, which the 
Committee began its inquiries too late to enjoy, of collecting from the 
oral recitation of a number of persons, now no more, a very great num- 
ber of the same poems, on the same subjects, and then collating those 
different copies or editions, if they may be so called, rejecting what was 
spurious or corrupted in one copy, and adopting from another something 
more genuine and excellent in its place, afforded him an opportunity of 
putting together what might fairly enough be called an origintil whole, of 
much more beauty, and with much fewer blemishes, than the Committee 
believes it noiv possible for any person, or combination of persons, to 
obtain." But this admission, when all the other circumstances wliich 
are urged in favour of the authenticity of these poems are considered, 
assuredly does not detract in any material degree from their genuineness ; 
more particularly when the history of ]\Ir. Farquharson's collection of 
Gaelic poetry, shortly to be noticed, is taken into account; a collection 
with which the Conniiittee were totally unacquainted, till it was brought 
to light by the patriotic exertions of Sir John Sinclair, seconded by 
those of the late highly respected Bishop Cameron. 

While we readily subscribe to the position as to the impossibility of 
poems, preserved only by tradition, being intelligible after thirteen 
centuries to readers who knew only the language of their own times, 
we cannot agree to the assumption that the Gaelic of the Highlands, as 


It was spoken in the Ossianic era, has been so materially altered or 
corrupted as to be unintelligible to the Gaelic population of the present 
age. That some alterations in the language may have taken place there 
can be no doubt; but, in an original and purely idiomatic language, these 
must have been necessarily few and unimportant. No fair analogy can be 
drawn between an original language, as the Gaelic unquestionably is, and 
the modern tongues of Europe, all, or most of which, can be deduced from 
their origin and traced through their various changes and modifications; 
but who can detect any such in the Gaelic? " A life of St. Patrick," says 
the Rev. Dr. John Smith,* " written in the sixth century, in Irish verse, 
is still intelligible to an Irishman ; and a poem of near one hundred verses, 
of which I have a copy, and which was composed about the same time 
by St. Columba, though for ages past little known or repeated, will be 
understood, except a few words, by an ordinary Highlander." And 
if such be the case as to poetical compositions, which had lain dormant 
for an indefinite length of time, can we suppose that those handed 
down uninterruptedly from father to son through a long succession of 
generations, could by any possibility have become unintelligible ? 
" The preservation of any language from total change" does not, we 
apprehend, depend upon the art of writing alone, but rather upon its 
construction and character, and on its being kept quite apart from 
foreign admixture. Owing to the latter circumstance all the European 
languages, the Gaelic alone excepted, have undergone a total change 
notwithstanding the art of writing. In connexion with this fact it may 
be observed, that the purest Gaelic is spoken by the unlettered natives 
of Mull and Skye, and the remote parts of Argyleshire and Inverness- 
shire ; and it has been truly observed, that " an unlettered Highlander 
will feel and detect a violation of the idiom of his language more readily 
than his countryman who has read Homer and Virgil."-|' 

The high state of refinement and moral civilization depicted in the 
poems of Ossian afiFords no solid oDjection against their authenticity. 
The same mode of reasoning might with great plausibility be urged 
against the genuineness of the Iliad and Odyssey. Fiction is essential 
to the character of a true poet; and we need not be surprised that one 
so imaginative and sublime as Ossian should people his native glens 
with beings of a superior order. 

We have already alluded to a collection of Gaelic poems made by 
Mr. Farquharson, which unfortunately does not now exist. The his- 
tory of this collection being very interesting, as throwing a flood of light 
on the Ossianic question, and supporting, in an essential manner, the 
views of the defenders of the authenticity of Ossian's poems, we hope 
we shall be excused for drawing the attention of the reader to the 
documents which detail the circumstances relating to that collection. 
Sir John Sinclair Baronet, having accidentally heard that Dr Cameron, 

* Letter to Henry Mackeuzi.'*, Esq., in Report refeired to. 

f Essr^y on the Authenticity of Ossian's Poems, by Ur. Patrick Graham, p. 103. 
1 o 


the Catholic Bishop of Edinburgh, could furnish some interesting 
information regarding the authenticity of Ossian, with that praiseworthy 
zeal which has ever distinguished the honourable Baronet, addressed the 
following card to the Bishop, dated Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, 
7th February, 1806. 

"Sir John Sinclair presents his compliments to Bishop Cameron. 
Has accidentally heard that the Bishop can throw some new light upon 
the controversy regarding the authenticity of the poems of Ossian, 
and takes the liberty, therefore, of requesting his attention to the sub- 
joined queries. 

" 1. Does the Bishop ever recollect to have seen, or heard of any 
ancient Gaelic manuscripts in France ? 

" 2. Did they contain any of the poems of Ossian, and what were 

"3. Did the Bishop compare them with Macpherson's translation, 
and did it seem to be a just one ? 

" 4. Can the Bishop recollect any other person or persons, now living, 
who saw those manuscripts? 

"5. Where did he see them ; and is there any chance of those being 
yet recovered, or copies of them obtained?" 

To wiiich application, Bishop Cameron returned for answer, that he 
had taken the necessary steps for acquiring and laying before Sir 
John the most satisfactory account he could, of a manuscript Gaelic 
collection, which contained a very considerable part of what was after- 
wards translated and published by IVIacpherson — that the collector had 
died in Scotland some years before — that the manuscript had been lost 
in France ; but there was at least one alive, who, being much pleased 
with the translation, although he did not understand the original, saw 
them frequently compared, and had the manuscript in his hands — and 
that Sir John's queries, and whatever else could throw any light on the 
subject, would be attended to. 

In answer to a second application from Sir John, the Bishop re- 
gretted that the information he had hitherto received, concerning the 
manuscript of Ossian's poems, was not so complete as he expected — 
and that the MS. was irreparably lost — that the Rev. James Alacgillivray 
declared, that he remembered the manuscript perfectly well ; that it 
was in folio, large paper, about three inches thick, written close, and 
in a small letter — the whole in Mr. John Farquharson's handwriting 
— that Mr. Macgillivray went to Douay College, in 1763, where Mr 
Farquharson was at the time Prefect of Studies-^ that Gaelic poetry 
and the contents of the MS. were frequently brought upon the carpet 
— that about 1766, Mr. Glendonning of Parton sent Macpherson's 
translation of the poems of Ossian to Mr. Farquharson — that the 
attention of every one was then drawn to the MS. in proportion to 
the impression made upon their minds by the translation. Mr. Mac 
gillivray saw them collated hundreds of times — that the common 
complaint was, that the translation fell very far short of the energy 



arid beauty of tlio original — and Mr. Macgillivray was convinced tLat 
the MS. contained all the poems translated by Macpherson. 1. 
Because he recollected very distinctly having heard Mr. Farquhar 
son say, after having read the translation, tliat he had all these poems in 
his collection. 2. Because he never saw hira at a loss to find the 
original in the MS. when any observation occurred upon any passage 
in the translation — that, he knew the poems of Fingal and Temora were 
of the number, for he saw the greater part of both collated with the 
translation, and he heard Mr. Farquharson often regret that Mac- 
pherson had not found or published several poems contained in his 
MS., and of no less merit than any of those laid before the public — 
that Mr. Farquharson came to Scotland in 1773, leaving his MS. in the 
Scots' College of Douay, where Mr. Macgillivray had occasion to see 
it frequently during his stay there till 1775 ; but, he said, it had got 
into the hands of young men who did not understand the Gaelic, and tvas 
much tattered, and that several leaves had been torn out — that the late 
Principal of that College, who was then only a student there, remem- 
bered very well having seen the leaves of the mutilated manuscript 
torn out to kindle the fire in their stove. 

Bishop Cameron believed tiie collection was made before the middle 
of last century. He was personally acquainted with Mr. Farqiiharson 
from 1773 to 1780, and the poems were often the subject of their con. 
versation, that whatever opinion the literary world might form of them, 
it was not easy to foresee that Macpherson should be seriously believed 
to be the author of them, and it was hoped he would publish the originals. 
In that persuasion perhaps few Highlanders would have copied them, 
for the value of any trifling variation. 

Bishop Cameron afterwards acquainted Sir John, that he considered 
the testimony of Mr. Macgillivray, on the subject of Mr. Farquharson's 
collection of Gaelic poems, as of the greatest weight with him, for 
many reasons. The impression made upon Mr. Macgillivray by the 
translation enhanced his veneration for the original. The manuscript 
appeared to him, in a very different light, from that in which it 
was seen by those who had from their infancy been accustomed to hear 
the contents of it recited or sung by illiterate men, for the entertain- 
ment of the lower classes of Society — that the account then given by 
Mr. Macgillivray, was the same which he gave him thirty years ago; 
for he. Bishop Cameron, took notes of it then, and had frequently 
repeated it since on his authority. 

On receipt of the communication alluded to. Sir John drew up the 
following queries which he transmitted to Bishop Cameron to be com- 
municated to his friends. 

" Queries for the Rev. Dr. John Chisholm, and for the Rev. James 
Macgillivray, to be answered separately. 

" 1. Did you recollect a manuscript of Gaelic poetry, at the college 
of Douay in Flanders ? 

<*2 At what time do you recollect receiving that manuscript? 


*' 3, Was it an ancient or modern manuscript ? 

*' 4. By whom was it supposed to be written, and at what period ? 

" 5. Did it contain other poems, and of equal or inferior merit ? 

*' 6. To whom were the poems ascribed ? 

" 7. Did you compare the Celtic manuscript with Macpherson's 
translation, and what similarity existed between them ? 

" 8. To what extent did you make the comparison, or was it made 
in your presence ? 

" 9. Were the Gaelic scholars at Douay perfectly satisfied with the 
result of the comparison ? 

" 10. Was there any communication of the circumstance made to 
any in Great Britain, so far as your knowledge goes? 

" 11. How long did the manuscript remain at the College of Douay ? 

** 12. What was the cause of the loss thereof? 

*' 13. Is there any chance of recovering a copy, or any part of it ? 

" 14. Are there any other persons in Scotland who saw the manu- 
script, andean certify the comparison above-mentioned? 

" 15. Did you ever hear of any other manuscript of Ossiau, either 
in France, or in Rome ? 

" 16. Do you entertain any doubt respecting the authenticity of the 
poems of Ossian, and that Mr. Macpherson was merely the translator 

" 17. Do you think that his translation did justice to the original? 

To these queries Bishop Chisholm replied as follows : — 

1. That he recollected the manuscript in question. 2. That he re- 
membered having seen it in the hands of the Rev. Mr. John Far- 
quharson, a Jesuit, in the years 1766—67, &c., but could not then read 
it. 3. Mr. Farquharson wrote it all when (4.) missionary in Strath- 
glass, before and after the year 1745. 5. It contained, as Mr. Far- 
quharson said, Gaelic poems not inferior to either Virgil or Homer's 
poems, according to his judgment, called (6.) by him Ossian's poems. 
7. The Bishop did not, but jMr. Farquharson did, compare the Celtic 
manuscripts with Macpherson's translation, and he affirmed the trans- 
lation was inferior to the original, and (8.) he said so of the whole of 
Mr. James Macpherson's translation. 9. There was not one scholar 
at Douay, that could read the Gaelic in his, Bishop Chisholm's, time. 
10. Mrs. Frazer of Culbokie spoke of the manuscript to him on his 
return to Scotland, and told him she had taught Mr. Farquharson 
to read the Gaelic on his arrival in Scotland, in which his progress in 
a short time exceeded her own. She likewise had a large collection, 
of which she read some passages to him, when he could scarcely under- 
stand the Gaelic, and which escaped his memory since ; the manuscript 
was in fine large Irish characters, written by Mr. Peter Macdonel, 
chaplain to Lord INIacdonel of Glengary, after the Restoration, who 
Had taught ]\rrs. Frazer, and made such a good Gaelic scholar of her : 
she called tliis collection a Bolg Solair, that Mr. Frazer of Culbokie, 
her gran dsonj could give no account of it. 11. The manuscript was 

farquharson's gaemc coLLEnrioN. 53 

at Douav, 1777, when the Bishop left that place. 12, That he rouhf 
not say what mig-ht have been done with it since ; it was then much 
damaged, that Mr. John Farquharson, in Elgin, formerly prefect 
of studies, and at the time of the French Revolution, Principal of the 
Scotch College, was the only one that could give any account of it, if 
he remembered it. 13. The Bishop feared that neither it nor any 
part of it could be recovered. 14. Mr. Farquharson, Mr. James Mac- 
gillivray, Mr. Ronald Macdonald, and the Bishop had seen it. The 
15th query was answered in the negative. 16. The Bishop never 
doubted the authenticity of Ossian's poems, and never thought Mac- 
pherson any thing but a translator. 17. By what he had seen of the 
original he believed it was impossible for Macpherson to do justice to 
it ; that it was likewise his opinion, he had it in his power to do more 
justice to it than he had done, and was convinced he had not taken 
up the meaning of the original in some passages. The Bishop added 
that Mr. Macgillivray was a great proficient in poetry, and was much 
admired for his taste, that he never saw one more stubborn and 
stiff in denying the merit of Highland poets, till Macpherson's trans- 
lation appeared, which, when compared with Mr. Farquharson's collec- 
tion, made a convert of him ; and none then admired Ossian's more 
than he. 

Mr. Macgillivray in answering Sir John's communication stated, 
that Mr. Farquharson was a man of an excellent taste in polite litera- 
ture, and a great admirer of the ancient poets. When he went to 
Strathglass, where he lived upwards of thirty years, he knew verv 
little of the Erse language, and was obliged to begin a serious study of 
it; that he was greatly assisted in this study by that JNIrs. Frazer 
of Culbokie, who passed for the best Erse scholar in that part of 
the country. From this lady he learnt the language grammatically, 
and to read and write it ; she likewise gave him a high opinion of 
Erse poetry, by the many excellent compositions in that language, 
with which she made him acquainted; that in consequence of this, 
when he became master of the language he collected every thing of the 
kind he could meet with, and of such collections was formed the MS. 
in question. 

He first saw the MS. in the possession of Mr. Farquharson, when 
he was a student in the Scotch College of Douay, and afterwards 
at Dinant in the county of Liege, Mr. Farquharson being then prefect 
of studies. That it remained in Mr. Farquharson's possession 
from the year 1763, when Mr. M'G. went first to the college, until 
1773, when he and Mr. Farquharson left Dinant, the latter to re- 
turn to Scotland, and the former to prosecute his studies at Douay. 
That Mr. Farquharson, on his return to Scotland, passed by Douay 
where he left his MS. That Mr. M'G. saw it there till the summer 
of 1775 when he left Douay, and was at that time in a much worse con- 
dition than he had ever seen it before : that it had got into the hands 
of the students, none of whom, he believed, could read it : that it was 


much tattered in many places, and many leaves had been torn oat. 
That from the manner in which it was then treated, very little 
care had been taken of it afterwards ; but allowing that what remained 
of it had been carefully kept, it must have perished with every thing 
else in that house, during the French Revolution. That the MS. was 
a large folio about three inches thick, and entirely in Mr. Far- 
quharson's own handwriting. As it consisted wholly of poems col- 
lected by himself, it was written pretty close, so that it must have 
contained a great deal. Mr. M'G. could not say positively how Mr, 
Farquharson had collected the poems ; that many of them certainly 
must have been obtained from hearing them recited, and he had a 
sort of remembrance that Mr. F. frequently mentioned his having got 
a great many of them from Mrs. Frazer, and indeed it must have been 
so, as she first gave him a relish for Gaelic poetry, by the fine pieces 
with which she made him acquainted. That Mr. M'G. could say nothing 
at all of the particular pieces which Mr. F. got from her, or from any 
other person, as he did not remember to have heard Jiim specify any 
thing of the kind. Mr. Macgillivray farther observes, that in the year 
1766 or 1767, Mr. Farquharson first saw Mr. Macplierson's transla- 
tion of Ossian. It was sent to him by Mr. Glendoning of Parton. 
That he remembered perfectly well his receiving it, although he did 
not recollect the exact time, but Mr. Farquharson said, when he had 
read it, that he had all the translated poems in his collection. That 
Mr. M'G. had an hundred times seen him tm'ning over his folio, wlien 
he read the translation, and comparing it with the Erse ; and he could 
positively say, that he saw him in this manner go through the whole 
poems of Fingal and Temora. Although he could not speak so pre- 
cisely of his comparing the other poems in the translation with his 
manuscript, Mr. M'G. was convinced he had them, as he spoke in general 
of his having all the translated poems ; and he never heard him men- 
tion that any poem in the translation was wanting in his collection ; 
whereas he has often heard him say that there were many pieces in 
it, as good as any that had been published, and regret that the trans- 
lator had not found them, or had not translated them. Mr. M'G. does 
not remember to have ever heard Mr. F. tax Mr. Macpherson*s trans- 
lation with deviating essentially from the sense of tlie original, wliich 
he would not liavc failed to have done, had he found grounds for it ; 
for he very frequently complained that it did not come up to the 
strength of the original, and to convince his friends of this, he used 
to repeat the Erse expressions, and to translate them literally, com- 
paring them with Macplierson's. Tiiis difference, however, he seemed 
to ascribe rather to the nature of tlie two languages, than to any inac- 
curacy or infidelity in the translator. 

AVith regard to the time at which Mr. Farquharson collected the 
poems he had, it was evident that it must have been during his resi- 
dence in Strathglass, as he brought them from Scotland to Douay with 
biin. Mr. M'G. did not know tlie very year he came to Douay, but 


he was sure it was before 1760, and he always understood that Mr. F. 
had collected them long before that time. When Mr, Farquharson 
first received Macpherson's translation, Mr. M'G. was studying' poetry 
and rhetoric, and he thought that nothing could equal the beauties of 
the ancient poets, whom he was then reading. He says that he used 
with a sort of indignation, to hear Mr. Farquharson say, that there 
were Erse poems equal in merit to the pieces of the ancients, whom 
he so much admired ; but when he saw the translation, he began to 
think his indignation unjust, and consequently paid more attention 
to the comparison which Mr. F. made of it with his own collection, 
than he would otherwise have done. 

"This is all the information," says Mr. Macgillivray, " I can give re- 
lative to Mr. Farquharson's manuscript ; I liave often regretted, since 
disputes began to run so high about the authority of Ossian's poems, that I 
did not ask Mr. Farquharson a thousand questions about them, which I did 
not think of then, and to which, I am sure, he could have given me the most 
satisfactory answers ; at any rate, what I have so often heard from him, has 
left on my mind so full a conviction of the authenticity of the poems, or at 
least that they are no forgery of Macpherson's, that I could never since 
hear the thing called in question, without the greatest indignation. It is 
certain that Mr. Farquharson made his collection before Macpherson's 
time, and I am sure that he never heard of Macpherson till he saw his 
book. I sincerely wish that persons of more judgment, and more reflec- 
tion than I had at the time, had had the same opportunities of seeing 
and hearing what I did, and of receiving from Mr. Farquharson, whose 
known character was sincerity, the information he could have given 
them ; in that case, I believe, they would have been convinced them- 
selves, and I make no doubt but they would have been the means of 
convincing the most incredulous." 

Bishop Cameron, after sending the communications alluded to, to Sir 
John Sinclair, informed him that besides Dr. Chisholm and Mr. JNIac- 
gillivray, two other persons had been named, who were students in tlie 
Scots College of Douay, in the year 1773, when Mr. Farquharson, re- 
turning to Scotland, from Dinant, spent some days amongst his country- 
men, and left his manuscript with them — that the first of these two 
afterwards president of the College, and then residing in Elgin, had 
declared to the Bishop, that he remembered the MS., that no one in 
the College could read it, and that he had seen the leaves torn out 
of it, as long as it lasted, to light the fire. 

That the second, the Rev. Ronald Macdonald, residing in Uist, de- 
clared, that he had a clear remembrance of having seen the majiuscript. 
But it was after his return to Scotland in 1780, after he had acquired a 
more perfect knowledge of the Gaelic, when he discovered that the poems 
of Ossian were not so common, or so fresh in the memory of his coun- 
trymen, when the public began to despair of Mr. Macpherson's pub- 
lishing his original text, and when some people doubted, or affected 
to doubt, the existence of an original, it was then Mr. Macdonald 


formed some idea of the value of the manuscript, and often expressed 
his regret that he had not brought it to Scotland, for he was confident 
no objection would have been made to his taking it. 

The following extracts from the Bishop's last letter to Sir John, 
are curious and interesting: — 

^' From the year 1775, when he came to Scotland, to 1780, when I 
went to Spain, where I resided more than twenty years, Mr. Macgil- 
livray and I lived in a habit of intimacy and friendship. Our interviews 
were frequent, and we were not strangers to Macpherson's translation 
of the poems of Ossian. It was then Mr. Macgillivray gave me the 
first account of the manuscript. The Rev. John Farquharson, to whom 
it belonged, lived at that time with his nephew, Mr. Farquharson of 
Inverey, at Balmorral. Amongst many others who visited in that 
respectable family, it is probable Lord Fife may still recollect the 
venerable old man, and bear testimony of the amiable candour and 
simplicity of his manners. I knew him, and he confirmed to me all 
that my friend, Mr. Macgillivray, had told me. He added, that when 
he was called to Douay, I believe about the year 1753, he had left 
another collection of Gaelic poems in Braemar. He told me by whom 
and in what manner it had been destroyed ; and made many humorous 
and just observations, on the different points of view, in which different 
people may place the same object. He seemed to think that similar, 
and even fuller collections might still be formed with little trouble. 
He was not sensible of the rapid, the incredible, the total change, 
which had taken place in the Highlands of Scotland, in the course of 
a few years. 

" The Poems of Ossian, were sometimes the subject of my conversa- 
tion with my friends in Spain. I wished to see them in a Spanish dress. 
The experiment was made ; but the public reception of the specimen did 
not encourage the translator to continue his labour. The author of a very 
popular work on the Origin, Progress, and present state of Literatm'e, 
had confidently adopted the opinion of those, who thought, or called 
Mr. Macpherson, the author, not the translator, of the poems ; and the 
opinion became common amongst our literati. This gave me occasion 
to communicate to my friends, the grounds of my opinion. To that 
circumstance, I ascribe my having retained a distinct memory of what 
I have now related ; and upon that account alone, I have taken the 
liberty of troubling you with this perhaps no less unimportant than 
tedious relation. 

" The Right Rev. Dr. Eneas Chisholm, informs me, that the late 
Mr. Archibald Frazer, major in the Glengary Fencibles, son of Mrs. 
Frazer, Culbokio, so renowned for her Gaelic learning, assured him, 
that his mother's manuscripts had been carried to America. Her son, 
Simon, emigrated thither with liis fixmily, in 1773. He had received 
a classical education, and cultivated the taste which lie had inherited 
for Gaelic poetry. When the American war broke out, Simon 
declared himself for the mother country. He became an officer in the 


British service, was taken prisoner, and thrown into a dungeon, Nvliere 
he was said to have been very cruelly used, and where he died ; J 
understood two of his sons, William and Angus, are now in Canada, 
but I can learn nothing of the fate of his manuscripts." 

In consequence of the allusion by Bishop Chisholm to the Rev. 
John Farquharson who had been President of the Scotch College at 
Douay, as knowing something of his namesake's collection, Sir John 
Sinclair requested that he would send him all the particulars he could 
possibly recollect as to the MS. alluded to, and his opinion regarding the 
authenticity of Ossian. He also wished to be informed if there was 
a chance of recovering the whole, or any part of the Douay MS. ? or 
if any copy of any part of it was extant ? To which request Mr. 
Farquharson replied, that he perfectly recollected to have seen in 1775 
and 1776 the MS. mentioned, but being no Gaelic scholar, all that he 
could attest was his having repeatedly heard the compiler assert, it 
contained various Gaelic songs, a few fragments of modern composi- 
tion, but chiefly extracts of Ossian's poems, collected during his long 
residence in Strathglass, previous to the rebellion of Forty-five ; and 
to have seen him compare the same with Macpherson's translation, and 
exclaiming frequently at its inaccuracy ; that the MS. might be about 
tlu*ee inches thick, large paper, scarce stitched, some leaves torn, others 
lost, and of course little heeded, as the Highland Society's and Sir John 
Sinclair's patriotic exertions were not then thought of. What its subse- 
quent fate had been, he could not positively say ; for, thrown care- 
lessly amongst other papers into a corner of the college archives, no 
care whatever had been taken of it, being in a manner en feuilles de*, in a handwriting scarcely legible, and of a nature wholly unin- 

The documents referred to establish beyond the possibility of doubt, 
that long before the name of Macpherson was known to the literary 
world, a collection of manuscript Poems in Gaelic did exist which 
passed as the Poems of Ossian, and that they were considered by 
competent judges as not inferior to the poems of Virgil or Homer: they 
demonstrate the absurdity of the charge that Macpherson was the author 
of the poems he published, and annihilate the rash and unfounded asser- 
tion of the colossus of English literature, Dr. Samuel Johnson, that 
" the poems of Ossian never existed in any other form than that 
which we have seen," in Macpherson's translation and *' that tho 
editor or author never could show the original, nor can it be shown by 
any other."* Whether the celebrated Lexicographer, had he lived to 
witness the publication of the Gaelic manuscripts under the sanction of 
tlie Highland Society of London, would have oLanged his opinion is a 
question which cannot be solved ; nor is it necessary to speculate on 
the subject. Every unprejudiced mind must now be satisfied of the 
authenticity of these poems, and may adopt " the pleasing supposition 
that Fingal lived and that Ossian sung." 

• Journey to the Western Islands, ed. 1798, p. 203. 
I. » 


The most formidable objection against the genuineness of the poems 
of Ossian, and which has been urged with great plausibility, is the 
absence of all allusions to religion. " Religion," says jMr. Laing, " was 
avoided as a dangerous topic that might lead to detection. The 
gods and rites of the Caledonians were unknown. From the danger, 
however, or the difficulty of inventing a religious mythology, the 
author has created a savage society of refined atheists ; who 
believe in ghosts, but not in deities, and are either ignorant of, or 
indifferent to, the existence of superior powers. In adopting Rous- 
seau's visions concerning the perfection of the savage state, which was 
then so popular, Macpherson, solicitous only for proper machinery, 
has rendered the Highlanders a race of unheard-of infidels, who believed 
in no gods but the ghosts of their fathers." 

It is certainly not easy to account for this total want of religious 
allusions, for to suppose that at the era in question the Caledonians 
were entirely destitute of religious impressions, or in other words, a 
nation of atheists is contrary to the whole history of the human race. 
That the druidical superstition was the religion of all the Celtic tribes 
is placed beyond all doubt, and that the influence and power of impe- 
rial Rome gradually weakened and finally extinguished that system is 
equally certain. The extinction of that superstition took place long 
before the supposed era of Ossian, but to imagine that all recoUectioa 
of the ancient belief had also been obliterated, is to suppose what is 
far from probable. Indeed, the well known traditions respecting the' 
disputes between the Druids, and Trathal and Cormac, ancestors to 
Fingal, in consequence cf the attempts of the former to deprive Tren- 
mor, grandfather to Fingal, of the office of Vergobretus or chief Magis" 
trate which was hereditary in his family, show plainly that Ossian 
could not be ignorant of the tenets of the Druids ; and as the Fingaliaii 
race from the circumstance noticed were the enemies of the Druids, the 
silence of Ossian respecting them and their tenets is not much 
to be wondered at. 

It cannot, however, be denied that this silence has puzzled the 
defenders of the poems very much, and many reasons have been given 
to account for it. The reason assif^ned by Dr. Graham of AberfoU 
in his valuable Essay appears to be the most plausible. " We are in- 
formed," says lie, "by the most respectable writers of antiquity, that 
the Celtic hierarchy was divided into several classes, to each of which 
its own particular department was assigned. The Druids, by the con- 
sent of all, constitute the highest class ; the Bards seem to have been 
the next in rank ; and the Eubages the lowest. The higher mysteries 
of religion, and probably, also, the science of the occult powers of 
nature, which they bad discovered, constituted the department of the 
Druids. To the Bards, again, it is allowed by all, were committed the 
celebration of the heroic achievements cf their warriors, and the public 
record of the history of the nation. But we know, that in every poUty 
which depends upon mystery, as that of the Druids undoubtedly ^[^ 


tlie inferior orders are sedulously prevented from encroaching on the 
pale of those immediately above them, by the mysteries which consti- 
tute their peculiar badge. Is it not probable, then, that the Bards 
were expressly prohibited from encroaching upon the province of their 
superiors by intermingling religion, if they had any knowledge of its 
mysteries, which it is likely they had not, with the secular objects of 
their song? Thus, then, we seem warranted to conclude upon this 
subject, by the time that Ossian flourished, the higher order of this 
hierarchy had been destroyed ; and in all probability the peculiar 
mysteries which they taught had perished along with them : and even 
if any traces of them remained, such is the force of habit, and the 
veneration which men entertain for the institutions in which they have 
been educated, that it is no wonder the Bards religiously forbore 
to tread on ground from which they had at all times, by the most 
awful sanctions been excluded. In this view of the subject, it would 
seem, that the silence which prevails in these poems, with regard to 
the higher mysteries of religion, instead of furnishing an argument 
against their authenticity, affords a strong presumption of their having 
been composed at the very time, in the very circumstances, and by the 
very persons to whom they have been attributed." 

But it is unnecessary to enlarge further on this subject. The pub* 
lication of the original poems, so long withheld from the world by the 
unaccountable conduct of Macpherson, has settled the question of their 
authenticity, and there are few persons now so sceptical as not to be 
convinced that these poems are of very high antiquity. 



PiCTs and Caledonians — Chronological Table of the Pictish Kings — The Scoto-Irish 
or Dalriads — Settlement of the Dalriads in Argj-le, in five hundred and three, under 
I^orn, Fergus, and Angus — Conversion of the Caledonians, or Picts, to Christianity 
by St. Columba — Inauguration of Aidan, King of Scots, in lona — Death of St. Colum- 
ba — Summary of Pictish History — Wars with the Scots — AiTival of the Vikingr or 
Pirate Kings — Summary of the history of the Scoto-Irish Kings — Accession of 
Kenneth to the Pictish Throne — Government of the Scoto-Irish — Their Judges and 
Laws — Courts of Justice — Mode of Living — Practice of Fosterage — Genealogy and 
Chronology of the Scoto-Irish Kings. 

We now enter upon what is called the Pictish period of Caledonian 
history, which emhraces a course of three hundred and ninety-seven 
years, viz., from the date of the Roman abdication of the government of 
North Britain, in the year four hundred and forty-six, to the subversion 
of the Pictish government in the year eight hundred and forty-three. 
This interval of time is distinguished by two important events in the 
history of North Britain — the arrival and settlement of the Dalriads, 
or Scoto-Irish, on the shores of Argyle, in the year five hundred and 
three, and the introduction of Christianity by St. Columba into the 
Highlands, in five hundred and sixty-three, both of which events will 
be fully noticed in the sequel. 

Many conjectures have been hazarded as to the derivation of the term 
Pict, to which there seems no necessity to revert here ; but of this 
there can be no doubt, that the Picts were Celts, and that they were no 
other than a part of the race of the ancient Caledonians under another 
name. Of the twenty-one distinct tribes which inhabited North Britain, 
at the time of the Roman invasion, as we have observed, the most 
powerful was that of the Caledonii, or Caledonians, who inhabited the 
whole of the interior country, from the ridge of mountains which sepa- 
rates Inverness and Perth on the south, to the range of hills that forms 
the forest of Balnagowan in Ross, on the north, comprehending all the 
middle parts of Inverness and of Ross; but in process of time the whole 
population of North Britain, were designated by the generic appellation 
of Caledonians, though occasionally distinguished by some classic writers, 
proceeding on fanciful notions, by the various names of Mseatse, Dicale 
dones, Vecturiones, and Picti. 



At the time of the Roman abdication, the Caledonians, or Picts, were 
under the sway of a chieftain, named Drust, the son of Erp, who, for 
his prowess in his various expeditions against the Roman provincials, 
has been honoured by the Irish Annalists, with the name of Drust of 
the hundred battles. History, however, has not done him justice, for it 
has left little concerning him on record. In fact, little is known of the 
Pictish history for upwards of one hundred years, immediately after 
the Roman abdication. Although some ancient chronicles afford us lists 
of the Pictish Kings, or Princes, a chronological table of whom, accord- 
ing to the best authorities, is here subjoined: — 














Drust, the son of Erp . . 

Talorc, the sou of Aniel 

Nacton Morbet, the son of Erp 

Drest Gurthinmoch . . 

Galanau Etelich 

Dadrest ..... 

Drest, the son of Girom . 

Drest, the sou of Wdrest, with the former 

Drest, the sou of Girom, alone 

Gartnach, the son of Girom 

Gealtraim, the son of Girom 

Talorg, the son of Muircholaich 

Drest, the son of Munait 

Galam, with Aleph . 

Galam, with Bridei 

Bridei, the sou of Mailcon 

Gartnaich, the son of Domelch 

Nectu, tlie nephew of Verb 

CiNEOCH, the son of Luthrin 

Garnard, the son of Wid 

Bridei, the son of Wid . 

Talorc, their brother 

Tallorcan, the son of Enfret 

Gartnait, the son of Donnel 

Drest, his brother 

Bridei, the son of Bili 

Taran, tlie son of Entifidich 

Bridei, the son of Dereli . 

Nechton, the son of Dereli 

Drest, and Elpin 

Uncus, the son of Urguis . 

Bridei, the son of Urguis 

CiNioD. the son of Wredech 

l^i-piN, the son of Bridei 

Drest, the son of Talorgan 

Talorgan, the son of Uugus 

Canaul, the son of Tarla . 

Constantin, the son of Urguis 

Uncus (Hungus), the son of Ur^ 

Drest, the sou of Coustantine, and Talorgan 

the son of Wthoil 
UuEN, the son of Ungus 
Wrad, the son of Bargoit . 
Bred .... 


Date of 





Duration of 

of their 

4 years. 
25 ... 
30 ... 
12 ... 

1 ... 

1 ... 

5 ... 
5 ... 
7 ... 
1 ... 

II ... 

1 ... 

1 ... 

1 ... 

30 ... 

11 ... 

20 ... 
19 ... 

4 ... 

5 ... 

12 ... 
4 ... 
6| ... 
7 ... 

21 ... 

4 ... 

11 ... 
15 ... 

5 ... 

31 ... 

2 ... 

12 ... 
3^ ... 

6 ... 
2i ... 
5 ... 

30 ... 

12 ... 




• See Chalmers' Caledonia, Vol. I. p. 206. 
|». Ill to 117, &c. &c. 

Junes' Critical Enquiry, Vol. I. from 


But before proceeding further with the Pictish history, it is proper, 
in the order of time, to give some details concerning the settlement of 
the Dalriads, and the introduction of Christianity among the Highland 
Clans. And with regard to the first of these events we beg to refer 
llie reader to the short notice given of the Scots in the first chapter, 
i^'hich will serve as a preliminary to what follows. 

The Scoto-Irish, a branch of the great Celtic family, are generally 
supposed to have found their way into Ireland from the western shores 
of North Britain, and to have established themselves at a very early 
period in the Irish Ulladh, the Ulster of modern times. They appear 
to have been divided into two tribes or clans, the most powerful of 
which was called Cruithne or Cruithnich ; a term said to mean eaters 
of corn or wheat, from the tribe being addicted to agricultural pursuits. 
The quarrels between these two rival tribes were frequent, and grew 
to such a height of violence, about the middle of the third century, as 
to call for the interference of Cormac, who then ruled as king of Ireland , 
and it is said that Cairbre-Riada, the general and cousin of king Cormac, 
conquered a territory in the north-east corner of Ireland, of about 
thirty miles in extent, possessed by the Cruithne. This tract was 
granted by the king to his general, and was denominated Dal-Riada, 
or the portion of Riada, over which Cairbre and his posterity reigned 
for several ages, under the protection of their relations, the sovereigns 
of Ireland.* The Cruithne of Ireland and the Picts of North Britain 
being of the same lineage and language, kept up, according to O'Connor, 
a constant communication with each other; and it seems to be satisfac- 
torily established that a colony of the Dalriads or Cruithne of Ireland, 
had settled at a very early period in Argyle, from which they were 
ultimately expelled and driven back to Ireland about the period of the 
abdication, by the Romans, of the government of North Britain, in the 
year four hundred and forty-six. 

In the year five hundred and three, a new colony of the Dalriads or 
Dalriadini, under the direction of three brothers, named Lorn, Fergus, 
and Angus, the sons of Ere, the descendant of Cairbre-Riada, settled 
in the country of the British Epidii, near the Epidian promontory of 
Richard and Ptolemy, named aftervrards by the colonists Ceantir or 
head-land^ now known by the name of Cantyre. History has thrown 
but little light on the causes which lead to this settlement, afterwards so 
important in the annals of Scotland; and a question has even been 
raised whether it was obtained by force or favour. In proof of the 
first supposition it has been observed,f that the Iiead-land of Cantyre, 
which forms a very narrow peninsula and runs far into the Deucaledo- 
nian sea, towards the nearest coast of Ireland, being separated by lofty 
mountains from the Caledonian continent, was in that age very thinly 
peopled by the Cambro-Britons ; that these descendants of the Epidii 

• O' Flaherty's Ogvgia ; Ogygia vindicated, pp. l&l, 4- & 5. O'Connor's Dissertation, 
pp. i!)6, 7. 
f Chalincr's Caledonia, Vol. I. p. 275. 


were little connected with the central clans and still less considered 
by thePictish government, which, perhaps, was not yet sufficiently refin- 
ed to be very jealous of its rights, or to be promptly resentful of its 
wrongs ; and that Drest- Gurthinmoch then reigned over the Picts, and 
certainly resided at a great distance, beyond Drum-Albin. It is also 
to be observed, in further corroboration of this view, that Lorn, Fergus, 
and Angus, brought few followers with them ; and though they were 
doubtless joined by subsequent colonists, they were, for some time, oc- 
cupied with the necessary, but uninteresting labours of settlement 
within their appropriate districts. Ceantir was the portion of Fergus, 
Lorn possessed Lorn to which he gave his name, and Angus is sup- 
posed to have colonized Ila, for it was enjoyed by Muredach, the son 
of Angus, after his decease. Thus these three princes or chiefs had 
each his own tribe and territory, according to the accustomed usage of 
the Celts; a system which involved them frequently in the miseries of 
civil war, and in questions of disputed succession. 

There is no portion of history so obscure, or so perplexed as that of 
the Scoto-Irish kings, and their tribes, from their first settlement, in 
the year five hundred and three, to their accession to the Pictish throne 
in eight hundred and forty-three. Unfortunately no contemporaneous 
written records appear ever to have existed of that dark period of our annals, 
and the efforts which the Scotch and Irish antiquaries have made to 
extricate the truth from the mass of contradictions in which it lies buried, 
have rather been displays of national prejudice than calm researches 
by reasonable inquirers. The annals, however, of Tigernach, and of 
Ulster, and the useful observations of O'Flaherty and O'Connor, along 
with the brief chronicles and historical documents, first brought to light 
by the industrious Innes, in his Critical Essay, (a work praised even by 
Pinkerton,) have thrown some glimpses of light on a subject which had 
long remained in almost total darkness, and been rendered still more ob- 
scure by the fables of our older historians. Some of the causes which have 
rendered this part of our history so perplexed are thus stated by 
Chalmers in his Caledonia. " The errors and confusion, which have 
been introduced into the series, and the history, of the Scottish kings, 
have chiefly originated from the following causes • — 1st. The sove- 
reignty was not transmitted by the strict line of hereditary descent. 
There were, as we shall see, three great families, who, as they sprung 
from the royal stock, occasionally grew up into the royal stem ; two of 
these were descended from Fergus I. by his grandsons, Comgal and 
Oauran ; the third was descended from Lorn, the brother of Fergus. 
This circumstance naturally produced frequent contests, and civil wars, 
for the sovereignty, which, from those causes, was sometimes split ; and 
the representatives of Fergus, and Lorn, reigned independently over 
their separate territories, at the same time. The confusion, which all 
this had produced, can only be cleared up, by tracing, as far as possible, 
the history of these different families, and developing the civil contests 
which existed among them. 2d. ^Much perplexity has been produced 


by the mistakes and omissions of the Gaelic bard, who composed the 
Albanic Duan, particularly, in the latter part of the series, where he 
has, erroneously, introduced several suppositious kings, from the Pictish 
catalogue. These mistakes having been adopted by those writers, 
whose subject was rather to support a system, than to unravel the his- 
tory of the Scottish monarchs, have increased, rather than diminished 
the confusion." 

Although the Dalriads had embraced Christianity before their ar- 
rival in Argyle, they do not appear to have been anxious to introduce 
it among the Caledonians or Picts. Their patron saint was Ciaran, 
the son of a carpenter. He was a prelate of great fame, and several 
churches in Argyle and Ayrshire were dedicated to him. The ruins 
of Kil-keran, a church dedicated to Ciaran, may still be seen in Camp- 
belton in Cantyre. At Kil-kiaran in Hay, Kil-kiaran in Lismore, and 
Kil-keran in Carrick, there were chapels dedicated, as the names indi- 
cate, to Ciaran. Whatever were the causes which prevented the Dal- 
riads from attempting the conversion of their neighbours, they were 
destined at no distant period, from the era of the Dalriadic settlement, 
to receive the blessings of the true religion, from the teaching of St. 
Columba, a monk of high family descent, and cousin of Scoto-Irish kings. 
It was in the year five hundred and sixty-three, when he was forty- 
two years of age, that he took his departure from his native land, to 
labour in the pious duty of converting the Caledonians to the faith of 
the gospel. On arriving among his kindred on the shores of Argyle, 
he cast his eyes about that he might fix on a suitable site for a monas- 
tery, which he meant to erect, from which were to issue forth tl\e 
apostolic missionaries destined to assist him in the work of conversion, 
and in which also the youth set apart for the office of the holy 
ministry were to be instructed. St. Columba, with eyes brimful 
of joy, espied a solitary isle lying in the Scottish sea, near the south- 
west angle of Mull, then known by the simple name /, signifying in 
Irish an island, afterwards changed by the venerable Bede into Hy^ 
latinized by the monks into lona, and again honoured with the name 
of I-columb-cil, the isle of St. Columba's retreat or cell. No better 
station or one more fitted for its purpose could have been selected than 
this islet during such barbarous times ; but events, which no human 
prudence could foresee, rendered the situation afterwards most unsuit- 
able ; for during the ravages of the Danes, in the eighth and ninth 
centuries, lona was particularly exposed to their depredations, and suf- 
fered accordingly. 

In pursuance of his plan, St. Columba settled with twelve disciples 
in Hy. " They now," says Bede, " neither sought, nor loved, any thing 
of this world," true traits in the missionary character. For two years did 
they labour with their own hands erecting huts and building a church. 
These monks liv^d under a very strict discipline which St. Columba 
bad established, and they recreated themselves, after their manual and 
devotional labours closed, by reading and transcribing tlie Holy 


Scriptures from the Latin or Vulgate translation. Having formed his 
infant establishment, the pious missionary set out on his apostolic tour 
among the Picts. Judging well that if he could succeed in converting 
Bridei, the son of Mailcon who then governed the Picts and had great 
influence among them, the arduous task he had undertaken of bringing 
over the whole nation to the worship of the true God would be more 
easily accomplished, he first began with the king, and by great patience 
and perseverance succeeded in converting him. Whether the Saint 
was gifted with miraculous powers as many excellent writers maintain, 
is a question on which we do not wish to enter ; but we cannot sub- 
scribe to the remark of Chalmers, that " the power of prophecy, the 
gift of miracles, which were arrogated by Columba, and are related by 
his biographers, are proofs of the ignorance and simplicity of the age." 
Doubtless the Picts at the time we are treating of were extremely 
Ignorant; but if a belief in miracles is to be held as a proof of ignorance 
and simplicity, how are we to account for it amongst a highly 
refined and civilized people ? The question whether miracles ceased 
after the Apostolic age, is a question not of opinion but of fact ; for, 
assuredly, there is no limitation to be found in Scripture of the 
duration of miraculous gifts, which God in his good providence may 
grant whenever He may deem proper. The learned Grotius in his 
Commentary on Mark xvi. 17 and 18, says, " As the latter ages, also, 
ai-e full of testimonies of the same thing, I do not know by what reason 
some are moved to restrain that gift (of miracles) to the first ages only. 
Wherefore, if any one would even now preach Christ, in a manner 
agreeable to him, to nations that know him not, I make no doubt but 
the force of the promise will still remain." As it is not our intention 
to defend the alleged miracles of St. Columba, we shall merely quote 
the testimony of the celebrated Dr. Conyers Middleton, on the historical 
proofs in support of miracles, which we do the more readily as he stoutly 
maintained the cessation of miraculous powers after the Apostolic age: 
" As far as church historians can illustrate or throw light upon any 
thing, there is not a single point in all history, so constantly, explicitly, 
and unanimously affirmed by them all, as the continual succession of 
those (miraculous) powers through all ages, from the earliest father 
that first mentions them, down to the time of the Reformation ; which 
same succession is still farther deduced by persons of the most eminent 
character, for their probity, learning, and dignity in the Roman church 
to this very day : so that the only doubt that can remain with us is, 
whether the church historians are to be trusted or not ? For if any 
credit be due to them in the present case, it must reach either to all 
or to none, because the reason of believing them in any one age will 
be found to be of equal force in all." 

The conversion of Bridei was immediately followed by that of his 

people, and St. Columba soon had ihe happiness of seeing the blessings 

of Christianity diifused among a people who had not before tasted its 

sweets. Attended by his disciples he traversed the whole of the 

I. I 


Pictish territories, and even penetrated into the lAlands of Orkaef, 
spreading every-wliere the light of faith by instructing' the people im 
the truths of the Gospel- To keep up a succession of the teackcrs al 
religion, he established monasteries in every district, and from tlvae 
issued, for many ages, Apostolic men to labour in that part of the vine- 
yard of Christ. These monasteries or cells were long subject to tke 
Abbey of lona. 

Conal, the fifth king of the Scots in Argyle, the kinsman of St. 
Columba, and under whose auspices he entered on the work of «OBTer- 
sion, and to whom it is said he was indebted for Hy, died in five 
hundred and seventy-one. His successor Aidan went over to Hyona 
in five hundred and seventy-four, and was there ordained and inau- 
gurated by the Abbot according to the ceremonial of the Lher vitrau, 
the cover of which is supposed to have been encrusted with dffjstaL 
F. jVrartene, a learned benedictine, says in his work, De AMtiqms 
EcclesicE Ritibus, that this inauguration of Aidan is the most »»M rT— t 
account that, after all his researches, he had found as to the benedictkM^ 
or inauguration of kings. There can be no doubt, however, tliat the 
ceremony was practised long before the time of Aidan. 

St. Columba died on the 9th of June, five hundred and ninety-seven, 
after a glorious and well spent life, thirty-four years of which he had 
devoted to the instruction of the nation he had converted- His in- 
fluence was very great with the neighbouring princes, and they o&en 
applied to him for advice, and submitted to him their d iflo g at es 
which he frequently settled by his authority. His memory was long 
held in reverence by the Scots and Caledonians. 

To return to the history of the Picts, we have already observed that 
little is known of Pictish history for more than a hundred years after 
the Roman abdication ; but at the time of the accession of Bridei in 
five hundred and fifty-six to the Pictish throne, some ligkt is let in Jtfmk 
that dark period of the Pictish annals. The reign of that prince was 
distinguished by many warlike exploits, but above all by his conversion 
and that of his people to Christianity, which indeed fomted kis greaiest 
glory. His chief contests were with the Scoto-Irish or Dafaiads, wfaflB 
ho defeated in five hundred and fifty-seven, and slew Oanran Acir 
king. Bridei died in the year five hundred and eighty-six, and for 
several ages his successors carried on a petty system of warfare, partly 
foreign and partly domestic. Passing over a domestic conflict, at Lin- 
dores in six hundred and twenty-one, under Cineoch the son of Luthnn, 
and the trifling battle of Ludo-Feim in six hnndred and sixty-three 
among the Picts themselves, we must nevertheless notice the important 
battle of Dun-Nechtan, fought in the year six hundred and eighty-five, 
between the Picts under Bridei, the son of Biii, and the Saxons, mder 
the Northumbrian Egfrid. The Saxon king, it is said, attacked the Picta 
without provocation, and against the advice of his conrt. Cr wwiwg the 
Forth from Lothian, the Bermda of that age, ke entered Stratk^n 
and penetrated thror.prh the defiles of the PictiA LiiugA j w , leaving fire and 


desolation in liis train. His career was stopt at Dun-Nechtan, the hill- 
fort of Nechtan, the Dunnichen of the present times ; and by a neisrh- 
bouring lake long known by the name of Nechtan's mere, did Egfrid 
and his Saxons fall before Bridei and his exasperated Picts. Thia 
vras a sad blow to the Northumbrian power ; yet the Northumbrians, 
in six hundred and ninety-nine, under Berht, an able leader, again 
ventured to try their strength with the Picts, when they were once more 
defeated by Bridei, the son of Dereli, who had recently mounted the 
Pictish throne. The Picts were, however, finally defeated by the 
Saxons, in seven hundred and ten, under Beorthfryth, in JSIananfield, 
when Bridei, the Pictish king, was killed. 

The wars between the Picts and Northumbrians were succeeded by 
various contests for power among the Pictish princes which gave rise 
to a civil war. Ungns, honoured by the Irish Annalists with the title 
of great, and Elpin, at the head of their respective partizans, tried their 
strength at JNIoncrib, in Strathem, in the year seven hundred and 
twenty-seven, when the latter was defeated ; and the conflict was again 
renewed at Duncrei, when victory declared a second time against 
Elpin, who was obliged to flee from the hostility of Ungus. Nechtan 
next tried his strength with Ungus, in seven hundred and twenty-eight, 
at ^loncur, in the Carse of Gowrie, but he was defeated, and many of 
his followers perished. Drust, the associate of Elpin in the Pictish 
government, also took the field the same year against the victorious 
Ungus, but he was slain in a battle fought at Drumderg, an extensive ridge 
on the western side of the river Ila. Talorgan. the son of Congus, was 
defeated by Brude, the son of Ungus, in seven hundred and thirty ; 
and Elpin, who, from the time of his last defeat, till that year, had 
remained a fugitive and an outlaw, now lost his life at Pit Elpie, within 
the parish of Liff^, near the scene of his flight in seven hundred and 
twenty-seven. This Elpin is not to be confounded, as some fabulous 
writers have done, with the Scottish Alpin who fell at Laicht-Alpin in 
the year eight hundred and thirty-six. 

Having now put down rebellion at home, the victorious Ungus cou. 
menced hostilities against the Dalriads, or Scoto-Irish, in the year seven 
hundred and thirty-six. Muredach, the Scottish king was not disposed 
to act on the defensive but carried the war into the Pictish ten-itories. 
Talorgan, the brother of Ungus, however, defeated him in a bloody 
engagement in which many principal persons fell. The Scots were 
again worsted in another battle in seven hundred and forty by Ungus, 
who in the same year repulsed an attack of the Northumbrians undei" 
Eadbert. In the year seven hundred and fifty, he defeated the Britons 
of the Cumbrian kingdom, in the well fought battle of Cath-O, in 
which his brother Talorgan was killed. Ungus, who was certainly by 
far the most powerful and ablest of the Pictish monarchs, died in seven 
hundred and sixty-one. A doubtful victory was gained by Ciniod the 
Pictish king over Aodh-fin, the Scottish king, in seven hundred and 



sixty-seven. Constantin, having overcome Canaul, the son of Tarla in 
seven hundred and ninety-one, succeeded him in the throne.* 

Up to this period, the pirate kings of the northern seas, or the Vikingr, 
as they were termed, had confined their ravages to the Baltic ; but, in 
the year seven hundred and eighty-seven, they for the first time 
appeared on the east coast of England. Some years afterwards they 
found their way to the Caledonian shores, and during the ninth century 
they ravaged the Hebrides. In eight hundred and thirty-nine, the 
Vikingr entered the Pictish territories. A murderous conflict ensued 
between them and the Picts under Uen their king, in which both he 
and his only brother Bran, as well as many of the Pictish chiefs, fell. 
This event hastened the downfal of the Pictish monarchy : and as the 
Picts were unable to resist the arms of Kenneth, the Scottish king, he 
carried into execution, in the year eight hundred and forty-three, a pro- 
ject he had long entertained, of uniting the Scots and Picts, and placing 
both crowns on his head. The ridiculous story about the total extermina- 
tion of the Picts by the Scots has long since been exploded. They 
were recognized as a distinct people even in the tenth century, but 
before the twelfth they lost their characteristic nominal distinction by 
being amalgamated with the Scots, their conquerors. 

The Scoto-Irish after their arrival in Argyle did not long continue 
under the separate authority of the three brothers. Lorn, Fergus, and 
Angus. They were said to have been very far advanced in life before 
leaving Ireland, and the Irish chroniclers assert that St. Patrick gave 
them his benediction before his death, in the year four hundred and 
ninety-three. The statement as to their advanced age derives some 
support from their speedy demise after they had laid the foundations 
of their settlements, and of a new dynasty of kings destined to rule 
over the kingdom of Scotland. Angus was the first who died, leaving 
a son, Muredach, who succeeded him in the small government of Ua. 
After the death of Lorn the eldest brother, Fergus, the last survivor, 
became sole monarch of the Scoto-Irish ; but he did not long enjoy 
the sovereignty, for he died in five hundred and six. In an ancient 
Gaelic poem or genealogical account of tho Scoto-Irish kings, Fergusf 
is honoured with the appellation ard, which means either that he was 
a great sovereign or the first in dignity. 

Fergus was succeeded by his son Domangart or Dongardus, who 
died in five hundred and eleven, after a short but troubled reign of about 
five years. His two sons Comgal and Gabhran or Gauran, successively 
enjoyed his authority. Comgal had a peaceful reign of four and twenty 
years, during which he extended his settlements. He left a son named 
Conal, but Gauran his brother, notwithstanding, ascended the throne 
in the year five hundred and thirty-five without opposition. Gauran 

• See the Ulster Aunals where an account is given of all these conflicts, 
f The projMT Irish name it seems is Feargus, derived from the fvarg of the Irish 
langunge, sij;iiifying a warrior or champiou. jNJjuiy Irish chieftains wore so nauiec]. 


reigned two and twenty years, and, as we have already observed, was 
slain in a battle with the Picts under Bridei their king. 

Conal, the son of Comgal then succeeded in five hundred and fifty- 
seven, and closed a reign of fourteen years in five hundred and seventy- 
one ; but a civil war ensued between Aidan, the son of Gauran, and 
Duncha, the son of Conal, for the vacant crown, the claim to which 
was decided on the bloody field of Loro, in five hundred and seventy- 
five, where Duncha was slain. Aidan, the son of Gauran, was formally 
inaugurated by St. Columba in lona, in five hundred and seventy-four 
Some years thereafter Aidan assisted the Cumbrian-Britons against the 
Saxons. He defeated the latter at Fethanlea, on Stanmore, in Nor- 
tlmmberland, in five hundred and eighty-four, and again in five hundred 
and ninety, at the battle of Leithredh, in which his two sons, Arthur 
and Eocha-fin, were slain, with upwards of three hundred of his men ; 
a circumstance which renders the supposition probable, that the armies 
of those times were far from numerous, and that the conflicts partook 
little of the regular system of modern warfare. Another battle was 
fought at Kirkinn in five hundred and ninety-eight, between Aidan and 
the Saxons, in which he appears to have had the disadvantage and in 
which he lost Domangart his son ; and in six hundred and three he was 
finally defeated by the Northumbrians under ^thilfrid at the battle of 
Dawstane in Roxburghshire. The wars with the Saxons weakened 
the power of the Dalriads very considerably, and it was not till after a 
long period of time that they again ventured to meet the Saxons in the 

During a short season of repose Aidan, attended by St. Columba, 
went to the celebrated council of Drum-keat in Ulster, in the year 
five hundred and ninety. In this council he claimed the principality of 
Dalriada, the land of his fathers, and obtained an exemption from do- 
ing homage to the kings of Ireland, which his ancestors, it would appear, 
had been accustomed to pay. Aidan died in six hundred and five, at 
the advanced age of eighty, and was buried in the church of Kil-keran, 
the ruins of which are still to be seen in the midst of Campbelton. 

Aidan was succeeded in the throne by his son Eocha-bui, or Eocha 
the yellow-haired, who reigned sixteen years. In six hundred and 
twenty he got involved in a war with the Cruithne of Ulster. His son 
Kenneth-Caer, the tanist or heir apparent, w^as appointed to the com- 
mand of the army destined to act against these Cruithne. A battle 
was fought at Ardcoran in which Kenneth was successful, and in which 
Tiachna, the son of the Ultonian monarch was slain. The same year 
was distinguished by another battle gained over the same people at 
Kenn, by Donal-breac, the son of Eocha'-bui. Eocha' died soon 
afterwards, when his son Kenneth-cear, or the awkward, assumed the 
monarchical dignity ; but he was killed in a battle against the Irish 
Cruithne, at Fedhaevin, in six hundred and twenty-one, after a short 
reign of three months. 

Ferchar, the son of Eogan, tlio first of the race of Lorn wlio ever 


mounted the throne, now succeeded. He was, according to Usher, 
crowned by Conan, the Bishop of Sodor ; but neither his own reign nor 
that of his predecessor is marked by any important events. He died 
in six hundred and thirty-seven, after a reign of sixteen years. 

Donal, suraamed breac or freckled, the son of Eocha'-bui, of 
the race of Gauran, succeeded Ferchar in six hundred and thirty-seven. 
He was a warlike prince and had distinguished himself in the wars 
against the Cruithne of Ireland. Congal-Claon, the son of Scanlan, 
the king of the Cruithne in Ulster, having slain Suibne-mean, the king 
of Ireland, was attacked by Domnal II., supreme king of Ireland, who 
succeeded Suibne, and was defeated in the battle of Duncetheren, in 
six hundred and twenty-nine. Congal sought refuge in Cantyre, and 
having persuaded Donal-breac, the kinsman of Domnal, to join him in 
a war against Domnal, they invaded Ireland with a heterogeneous mass 
of Scoto-Irish, Picts, Britons, and Saxons, commanded by Donal and 
his brothers, Cealach, the son of Maelcomh, the nephew of the reign- 
ing king, and as tanist or heir apparent, the leader of his army, attacked 
Donal-breac in the plain of Moyrath in six hundi-ed and thirty-seven, 
and completely defeated him after an obstinate and bloody engagement. 
Congal, the murderer of his sovereign, met his merited fate, and 
Donal-breac was obliged to secure his own and his army's safety by a 
speedy return to Cantyre. St. Columba had always endeavoured to 
preserve an amicable understanding between the Cruithne of Ulster 
and the Scoto-Irish, and his injunctions were, that they should live in 
constant peace ; but Donal disregarded this wise advice and paid dearly 
for disregarding it. He was not more successful in an enterprize 
against the Picts, having been defeated by them in the battle of Glen- 
moreson during tlie year six hundred and thirty-eight. He ended his 
days at Straith-cairmaic on the Clyde, by the sword of Hoan, one of the 
reguli of Strathcluyd, in the year six hundred and forty-two. The same 
destiny seems to have pursued his iss^ue, for his son Cathasuidh fell by 
the same hand in six hundred and forty-nine. 

Conal II., the grandson of Conal I., who was also of the Fergusian 
race of Congal, next ruled over the tribes of Cantyre and Argyle ; but 
Dungal of the race of Lorn, having obtained the government of 
the tribe of Lorn, questioned the right of Conal. He did not, 
however, carry his pretensions far, for Conal died, in undisturbed 
possession of his dominions, in six hundred and fifty-two, after a reign 
of ten years. To Donal-duin, or the brown, son of Conal, who reigned 
thirteen years, succeeded Maolduin, his brother, in six hundred and 
sixty-five. The family feuds which had long existed between the Fer- 
gusian races of Comgal and Tauran, existed in their bitterest state 
during the reign of Maolduin. Domangart the son of Donal-breac was 
murdered in six hundred and seventy-two, and Conal the son of Maol- 
duin was assassinated in six hundred and seventy-five. 

FQYd\?iv-fada, or the tall, apparently of the race of Lorn, and either 
the son or grandson of Ferchar, who died in six hundred and seventy- 


three, seized the reins of government upon the death of Maolduin, 
Donal, the son of Conal and grandson of Maolduin, was assassinated in 
six hundred and ninety-five, with the view, no doubt, of securing Fer- 
char's possession of the crown, which he continued to wear amidst 
family feuds and domestic troubles for one and twenty years. On the 
death of Ferchar, in seven hundred and two, the sceptre passed again 
to the Fergusian race in the person of Eocha'-rineval, remarkable for 
his Roman nose, the son of Domangart, who was assassinated in six 
hundred and seventy-two. The reign of this prince was short and un- 
fortunate. He invaded the territories of the Britons of Strathcluyd 
and was defeated on the banks of the Leven in a bloody conflict. 
Next year he had the misfortune to have his sceptre seized by a prince 
of the rival race of Lorn. 

This prince was Ainbhcealach, the son of Ferchar-fada. He suc- 
ceeded Eocha' in seven hundred and five. He was of an excellent dis- 
position, but after reigning one year, was dethroned by his brother, 
Selvach, and obliged, in seven hundred and six, to take refuge in 
Ireland. Selvach attacked the Britons of Strathcluyd, and gained two 
successive victories over them, the one at Lough-coleth in seven hundred 
and ten, and the other at the rock of Mionuire in seven hundred and 
sixteen. At the end of twelve years, Ainbhcealach returned from Ire- 
land, to regain a sceptre which his brother had by his cruelties shown 
himself unworthy to wield, but he perished in the battle of Finglein, 
a small valley among the mountains of Lorn in seven hundred and 
nineteen. Selvach met a more formidable rival in Duncha-beg, 
who was descended from Fergus, by the line of Congal : he assumed 
the government of Cantyre and Argail, and confined Selvach to his 
family settlement of Lorn. These two princes, appear to have been 
pretty fairly matched in disposition and valour, and both exerted them- 
selves for the destruction of one another, a resolution which brought 
many miseries upon their tribes. In an attempt which they made to 
invade the territories of each other in seven hundred and nineteen, by 
means of their ciirrachs, the novel scene of a naval combat ensued off 
Ardaness on the coast of Argyle, which was maintained on both sides 
with as determined perseverance and bravery, as were ever displayed in 
modern times by the English and the Dutch. Selvach though superior 
in skill, was overcome by the fortune of Duncha ; but Selvach was 
not subdued. The death of Duncha in seven hundred and twenty-one, 
put an end to his designs; but Eocha' III. the son of Eocha'-rineval, 
the successor of Duncha, being as bent on the overthrow of Selvach as 
his predecessor, continued the war. The rival chiefs met at Air- 
Gialla in seven hundred and twenty-seven, where a battle was fought, 
which produced nothing but irritation and distress. This lamentable 
state of things was put an end to by the death of Selvach in seven 
hundred and twenty-nine. This event enabled Eocha' to assume the 
government of Lorn, and thus the Dalriadian kingdom, which had 
been alternately ruled by chiefs of the houses of Fergus and Lorn, be- 


came again united under Eoclia'. He died in seven hundred and 
thirty-three, after a reign of thirteen years, during nine of which he 
ruled over Cantyre and Argail, and four over all the Dalriadic tribes. 
Eocha' was succeeded in the kingdom by Muredach, the son of 
Aiiibhceallach of the race of Lorn, called by the gaelic bard Mure- 
dhaigh Mliaith, or Muredagh tlie good. His reign was short and un- 
fortunate In revenge for an act of perfidy committed by Dungal, the 
son of Selvach, who had carried oflF Forai, the daughter of Brude, and 
the niece of Ungus, the great Pictish king, the latter, in the year seven 
hundred and thircy-six, led his army from Strathern, through the passes 
of the mountains into Lorn, which he wasted with fire and sword. 
He seized Dun-ola, the chief residenceof the Lorn dynasty in Mid-Lorn, 
and burned Creic, another fortress, and having taken Dungal and 
Feradach, the two sons of Selvach, prisoners, he carried them to 
Forteviet, his capital, in fetters. Muredach collected his forces, and 
went in pursuit of his retiring enemy, and having overtaken him at 
Cnuic-Coirbre, a battle ensued, in which the Scots were repulsed 
with great slaughter. Talorgan, the brother of Ungus, commanded the 
Picts on this occasion, and pursued the flying Scots. In this pursuit 
Muredach is supposed to have perished, after a reign of three years. 

Eogban or Ewan, the son of Muredach, took up the fallen suc- 
cession in seven hundred and thirty-six, and died in seven hundred 
and thirty-nine, in which year the Dalriadic sceptre was assumed by 
Aodh-fin, the son of Eocha III. and grandson of Eocha'-rineval, 
descended from the Fergusian race of Guaran. This sovereign is 
called by the Gaelic bard, Aodh na Ardf-hlaith, or Hugh, the high or 
great kmg, a title which he appears to have well merited, from his 
successful wars against the Picts. In seven hundred and forty, hft 
measured his strength with the celebrated Ungus ; but victory declared 
for neither, and during the remainder of Ungus' reign, he did not attempt 
to renew hostilities. After the death of Ungns in seven hundred and 
sixty-one, Aodh-fin declared war against the Picts, whose territories 
he entered from Upper Lorn, penetrating through the passes of Glen- 
orchy and Braid- Alban. In seven hundred and sixty-seven, he reached 
Forteviot, the Pictish capital in Strathern, where he fought a doubtful 
battle with Ciniod the Pictish king. As the Picts had seized all the 
defiles of the mountains by which he could effect a retreat, his situation 
became extremely critical ; but he succeeded by great skill and bravery, in 
rescuing his army from their peril, and leading them within the passe 
of Upper Lorn, where the Picts did not venture to follow him. 
Aodh-fin died in seven hundred and sixty-nine, after a splendid reign 
of thirty years. 

Fergus II., son of Aodh-fin, succeeded to the sceptre on the demise 
of his father, and died after an unimportant reign of three years. 
Selvach II., the son of Eogan, assumed the government in seven hun- 
dred and seventy-two. His reign, which lasted twenty-four years, pre- 
sents nothing very remarkable in history. 


A new sovereign of a different lineage, now mounted the throne of 
the Scots in seven hundred and ninety-six, in the person of Eocha'- 
annuine, the son of Aodh-fin of the Guaran race. Eocha' lA^. is 
known also by the latinized appellation of Achaius. On his accession, 
he found a civil war raging in his dominions, which he took no means 
to allay, but the rival chieftains could not be kept in check, and 
j)robably Eocha' thought he best consulted his own interest and the 
stability of his throne by allowing them to waste their strength upon 
one another. The story of the alliance between Achaius and Charle- 
magne, has been shown to be a fable, which, notwithstanding, continues 
to be repeated by superficial writers. He, however, entered into an 
important treaty with the Picts, by marrying Urgusia, the daugh- 
ter of Urguis, an alliance which enabled his grandson Keimeth, after 
wards to claim and acquire the Pictish sceptre, in right of Urgusia 
his grandmother. Achaius died in eight hundred and twenty-six, 
after a happy and prosperous reign of thirty years. 

He was succeeded by Dungal, the son of Selvach II. of the race of 
Lorn, being the last of that powerful family which swayed the 
Dalriadic sceptre. After a feeble reign of seven years, he died in 
eight hundred and thirty-three. 

Alpin, the last of the Scoto-Irish kings, and the son of Eocha' IV. 
find of Urgusia, now mounted the throne. He was killed in eighfi 
Jiundred and thirty-six, near the site of Laicht castle, on the ridge 
which separates Kyle from Galloway. Having landed with a force on 
the coast of Kyle, within the bay of Ayr, he laid waste the country 
between the Ayr and the Doon, before the native chiefs could assem- 
ble a sufficient force to oppose him ; but being met by them near the spot 
just mentioned, he met his fate, from the weapon of an enraged chief. 
The fiction that Alpin fell in a battle with the Picts, when assert- 
ing his right to the Pictish throne, has long been exploded. 

In eight hundred and thirty-six, Kenneth, the son of Alpin, succeeded 
liis father. He is called, by the Gaelic bard so often alluded to, Chion- 
asith Chruaidh, signifying Kenneth the hardy. He was a prince of a 
warlike disposition, and of great vigour of mind and body. He avenged 
tlie death of his father, by frequent inroads among the people dwelling 
to the south of the Clyde; but the great glory of his reign, consists 
in his achievements against the Picts, which secured for him and his 
posterity the Pictish sceptre. The Pictish power had, previous to the 
period of Kenneth's accession, been greatly enfeebled by the inroads of 
the Danish Vikingr ; but it was not till after the death of Uven, the 
Pictish king, in eight hundred and thirty-nine, after a distracted reign 
of three years, that Kenneth made any serious attempt to seize the 
Pictish diadem. On the accession of Wred, the last of the Pictish 
kings, Kenneth laid claim to the Pictish throne in right of Urgusia, 
his grandmother; and after an arduous struggle, he wrested the scep- 
tre from the hand of Wred, in eight hundred and forty-three, after 
he had reigned over the Scots seven years. In noticing the opinioa 

I. K 


of tiiose writers who suppose that the Picts rather subdued the S< ots, 
than that they were subdued by their Scoto-Irish rivals, Clialmers 
observes that " there are two moral certainties, which forbid the adopt- 
ing of this theory, or the believing of that system : it is morally cer- 
tain, that the language which was spoken by the people, on the north 
of the Clyde and Forth, was Cambro-British, till the close of the Pic- 
tish period, in eight hundred and forty-three, a.d. : it is also morally 
certain that the prevailing language, within the same country, through- 
out the Scottish period, from eight hundred and forty three to ten 
hundred and ninety-seven, a.d., was the Scoto-Irish, the speech o; 
Kenneth, and his people."* 

The history of the Scoto-Irish kings afford tew materials either 
amusing or instructive ; but it was impossible, from the connexion 
between that history, and the events that will follow in detail, to pass 
it over in silence. The Scoto-Irish tribes appear to have adopted much 
the same form of Government, as existed in Ireland at the time of their 
departure from that kingdom; the sovereignty of which, though nomi- 
nally under one head, was in reality a ■pentarchy, which allowed fonr 
provincial kings to dispute the monarchy of the fifth. This system was 
the prolific source of anarchy, assassinations, and civil wars. The Dal- 
riads were constantly kept in a state of intestine commotion and mutual 
hostility by the pretensions of their rival chiefs, or princes of the three 
races, who contended with the common sovereign for pre-eminence or 
exemption. The dlighe-tanaiste, or law of tanistry, which appears to 
have been generally followed as in Ireland, as well in the succession of 
kings as in that of chieftains, rather increased than mitigated these dis- 
orders; for the claim to rule not being regulated by any fixed law of heredi- 
tary succession, but depending upon the capricious will of the tribe, rivals 
were not found wanting to dispute the rights so conferred. There was 
always, both in Ireland and in Argyle, an heir presumptive to the Crown 
chosen,under the name oftanist, who commanded the army during the life 
of the reigning sovereign, and who succeeded to him after his demise. 
Budgets, and committees of supply, and taxes, were wholly unknown in 
those times among the Scots, and the monarch was obliged to support his 
dignity by voluntary contributions of clothes, cattle, furniture, and other 

Among the Scots, the tenure of lands ceased with the life of the pos- 
sessors, and women could not even possess an inch of ground under the 
Brehon law. So late as the reign of Alex.mder II., the Galloway-men 
rose, almost en masse, to support the pretensions of a bastard son against 
the claims of three legitimate daughters of their late lord, a revolt which 
it required all the power of the sovereign to put down. The portion 
allotted to daughters on marriage, and denominated Spre in Irish, con- 
sisted of cattle. 

We have else\vhere observed, that writing, during the existence of 

• r}»lR*1onia, Vol. I. pp. 304 and 30.5. In proof of this opinion, he refers to the changt 
by the Scots of thu liritish word Ah.r iuto the Scoto-Irish Inver in andent Chartularies, 


tlio Druids, was unknown to the Celtic tribes, and that their history, 
hiws and religion were preserved by tradition. There is reason to 
believe, that tradition supplied the place of written records for many 
ages after the extinction of the Druidical superstition. Hence among 
the Scots, traditionary usages and local customs, long supplied the place 
of positive or written laws. It is a mistake to suppose, as some writers 
have done, that the law consisted in the meie will of the Brehon 
or judge. The office of Brehon was no doubt hereditary, and it is 
quite natural to infer, that under such a system of jurisprudence, the 
dictuin of the judge might not always comport with what was under- 
stood to be the common law or practice ; but from thence, to argue that 
the will of the judge was to be regarded as the law itself, is absurd, 
and contrary to every idea of justice. As the principle of the rude 
jurisprudence of the Celtic tribes had forits object, the reparation, rather 
than the prevention of crimes, almost every crime, even of the blackest 
kind, was commuted by a mulct or payment. Tacitus observes in al- 
lusion to this practice, that it was " a temper wholesome to the com- 
monwealth, that homicide and lighter transgressions were settled by 
the payment of horses or cattle, part to the king or community, part 
to him or his friends who had been wronged." The law of Scotland 
long recognised this system of compensation. The fine was termed, 
under the Brehon law, ericy which not only signifies a reparation, but 
also a fine, a ransom, a forfeit. Among the Albanian Scots it was 
called cro, a term preserved in the Regiam Majestatem, which has a 
whole chapter showing " the cro of ilk man, how mikil it is."* This 
law of reparation, according to O'Connor, was first promulgated in 
Ireland, in the year one hundred and sixty-four.f According to the 
Regiam Majestatem^ the cro of a villain was sixteen cows ; of an earl's 
son or thane, one hundred ; of an earl, one hundred and forty; and that 
of the king of Scots, one thousand cows, or three thousand oras, that is 
to say, three oras for every cow. 

Besides a share of the fines imposed, the Brehon or judge obtained 
a piece of arable land for his support. When he administered justice, 
he used to sit sometimes on the top of a hillock or heap of stones, 
sometimes on turf, and sometimes even on the middle of a bridge, sur- 
rounded by the suitors, who, of course, pleaded their own cause. We 
have already seen, that under the system of the Druids, the offices of 
religion, the instruction of youth, and the administration of the laws, 
were conducted in the open air ; and hence the prevalence of the prac- 
tice alluded to. But this practice was not peculiar to the Druids; for 
all nations, in the early stages of society, have followed a similar custom, 
'i'he Tings of the Scandinavians, which consisted of circular enclosures 
of stone without any covering, and within which both the judicial and 
legislative powers were exercised, afford a striking instance of this. 
According to Pliny, J even the Roman Senate first iriet in the open 

• Lib. iT. cap. xxiv. f O'Connor's Dissert. \ Lib. viii. c. 45 


air, and the sittings of tlie Court of the Areopagus, at Athens, were «o 
Jjeld. The present custom of holding courts of justice in halls is not 
of very remote antiquity in Scotland, and among the Scoto-Irish, the 
baron bailie long continued to dispense justice to the Baron's vassals 
from a moothill or eminence, which was generally on the bank of a 
rix'er, and near to a religious edifice. 

In the rude state of Scoto-Irish society, learning and the arts could 
receive little encouragement. Architecture was but little regarded; 
the materials employed in the construction of houses consisting only of 
wattles, of which slight articles were built, even the celebrated Abbey 
of lona, from which issued the teachers of religion for many ages. 
The comforts of stone and lime buildings were long unknown to 
the Scoto-Irish. As they were without manufactures, their clothing 
must necessarily have been very scanty. " The clothing even of the 
Monks," says Chalmers, "consisted of the skins of beasts, though they had 
woollen, and linen, which they knew how to obtain from abroad by means 
of traffic : the variegated plaid was introduced in latter times. Venison, 
and fish, and seals, and milk, and flesh, were the food of the people. 
The monks of lona, who lived by their labour, had some provision of 
corn, and perhaps the chiefs, who lived in strengths. But, it is to be 
recollected, that the monks were every-where, for ages, the improvers 
themselves, and the instructors of others, in the most useful arts. 
They had the merit of making many a blade of grass grow where none 
grew before. Even lona had orchards, during the rugged times of the 
Tiinth century, till the Vikingr brutishly ruined all. Whatever the 
Scoto-Irish enjoyed themselves, they were willing to impart to others. 
The most unbounded hospitality was enjoined by law, and by manners, 
as a capital virtue."* 

Of the various customs and peculiarities which distinguished the 
ancient Irish, as well as the Scoto-Irish, none has given rise to greater 
speculation than that o^ fosterage; which consisted in the mutual ex- 
change, by different families, of their children for the purpose of being 
2mrsed and bred. Even the son of the chief was so entrusted during 
pupilarity with an inferior member of the clan. An adequate reward 
was either given or accepted in every case, and the lower orders, to 
whom the trust was committed, regarded it as an honour rather than a 
service. " Five hundred kyne and better," says Campion, *' were some- 
times given by the Irish to procure the nursing of a great man's child." 
A firm and indissoluble attachment always took place among foster- 
brothers, and it continues in conseqnence to be a saying among High- 
landers, that " affectionate to a man is a friend, but a foster-brother is 
as the life-blood of his heart." Camden observes, that no love in the 
world is comparable by many degrees to that of foster-brethren in 
Ireland.-|- The close connexion which the practice o^ fosterage created 
between families, while it frequently prevented civil feuds, often led tc 

• Chalinors' raU'«loiiia, vol. 1. + Holland's Camden, Ireland, p. II&. 


them. But the stroMg' attachment thus created was not confined lo 
toster-brothers : it also extended to their parents. Spenser relates oi 
the foster- mother to Murrough O'Brien, that, at his execution, she 
sucked tlie blood from his head, and bathed her face and breast with 
it, saying that it was too precious to fall to the earth. 

The family, which had been fortunate to bring- up the chief, were 
greatly beloved and respected by him, and the foster-brothers were 
promoted in his household to places of trust and confidence. The 
remuneration for fosterage was often a matter of paction, and, in 
niodern times, became, in some cases, the subject of an especial Avritten 
agreement ; but, in general, an understood practice prevailed in parti- 
cular districts. " In Mull, the father sends with his child a certain 
number of cows, to which the same number is added by the fosterer; 
t!ie father appropriating a proportionate extent of country, without 
rent, for their pasturage. If every cow brings a calf, half belongs to 
the fosterer and half to the child ; but if there be only one calf between 
two cows, it is the child's ; and when the child returns to the parents, 
It is accompanied by all the cows given both by the father and by the 
fosterer, with half of the increase of the stock by propagation. These 
oeasts are considered as a portion, and called macaladh cattle, of which 
the father has the produce, but is supposed not to have the full pro- 
perty, but to owe the same number to the child, as a portion to the 
daughter, or a stock for the son."* 

It is unnecessary, at this stage of our labours, to enter upon the 
subject of clanship, as we mean to reserve our observations thereon till 
we come to the history of the clans, when we shall also notice some 
peculiarities or traits of the Highlanders not hitherto mentioned. We 
shall conclude this chapter by giving 




Date of 

of Heigns. 





A. D. 


LoARN, the son of Ere, reigned contempo-") 


vary with Fergus . . . . V 

In 503 


In 506 

1 1 

Fergus, the son of Ere . . . . J 







CoMGAL, the son of Domangart 





Gauhan, the son of Domangart 





CoNAL, the son of Comgal 





AiDAN, the son of Gauran 





EoACHA'-Bui, the son of Aidan 





KENNETii-Cear, the son of Eoaci.a'-lJui 





Ferchar, the son of Eogan, the first of the") 

race of Lorn j 





DoNAi-RrejiC, the son of Eoaoha'-Bui 





CoNAL II., the grandson of Conal I. . 1 





DuNGAL reigned some years with Conal . J 



DoNAL-Duin, tlie son of Clonal 




• JonusonS Tour to the Helridea. 





Date of I Duration 
Acce.ssion. i of Reigns. 


Demije. j 







MAOTi-Duin, the son of Conal . . 

FEiicHAR-Fada, the grandson of Ferchar I. 
EoACHA'-Kinevel, the son of Doraangart, { 

and the grandson of Donal-breac . J 

AiNBHCEALACH, the son of Ferchar-fada 
Selvach, the son of Ferchar-fada, reigned^ 

over Lorn, from 706 to 729 
DuNCHA-Beg reigned over Cantyre and Ar- | 

gail, till 720 ..... |> 

EocHA* III., the son of Eoacha'-rineve!, I i 

over CantjTe and Argail, from 720 to 729 ; j ' 

and also over Lorn from 729 to 733 J ! 

MuREDACH, the son of Ainbhcealach . I 

EoGAN, the son of Muredach . 
AoDH-Fin, the son of Eoacha* IIL 
Fergus, the son of Aodh-lin . 
Selvach IL, the son of Eogan 
Eoacha'- Annuine IV., the son of Andh-lin 
DuNGAL, the son of Selvach IL 
Alpin, the son of Eoacha'-annuine IV, 
Kenneth, the son of Al]|iin . » 

In 665 














7()9 1 













In 681 

702 I 






Piciavian Kingdom — Attacks of the Danish Vikingr — Death of Kenneth Macalpm— 
Defeat of the Danes by Constantine III — Battles of Bruiianbiug, of the Bands, and 
of Luncarty — New Inroads of the Danes — Their defeat — Usurjjation of Macbeth — 
Malcolm Ceanmore — Accession of Donal-bane — Music and Musical Instruments 
of the Highlanders — Learning and Civilization — Chronological Table of the Scot- 
tish Kings, Anno 843—1097. 

The accession of Kenneth, son of Alpin, to the Pictish throne, led to 
a union of the two crowns, or of two separate nations into one monarchy ; 
but this union gave the Scots an ascendancy, which enabled them, after- 
wards, to give their name to the whole of North Britain. The coali- 
tion, or rather amalgamation of the Scots and Picts under one sovereign, 
was greatly facilitated from their being of the same common origin, 
and speaking respectively the Gaelic and British tongues, the differ- 
ences between which were immaterial ; for nothing tends more to keep 
up a separation between the inhabitants of a country, than a marked 
distinction in their language. The consolidation of the Scottish and 
Pictish power, under the direction of one supreme Chief, enabled these 
nations not only to repel foreign aggression, but afterwards to enlarge 
their territories beyond the Forth, which had hitherto formed, for many 
ages, the Pictish boundary on the south. Pictavia, or the country of 
the Picts, is said to have been anciently divided into six kingdoms or 
states ; but, passing over these fictitious monarchies, we may observe, 
that, at the time of the union in question, it consrsted of the whole of 
the territory nortli of the Forth, with the exception of that on the 
western coast, extending from the Clyde on the south, to Loch-Ew 
and Loch-Marce on the north, and from the sea on the west, to Drum- 
alban on the east ; which latter territory and tlie adjacent isles were 
possessed by the Scots. 

Although the power of the tribes to the north of the Forth was greatly 
augmented by the union which had taken place ; yet all the genius and 
warlike energy of Kenneth were necessary to protect him and his people 
from insult. Ragnor Lodbrog with Lis fierce Danes infested the country 
round the Tay on the one side, and the Strathclyde Britons on the 
other, wasted the adjoining territories, and burnt Dunblane. Yet 
Kenneth overcame these embarrassments, and made frequent incursions 


into the Saxon territories in Lothian, and caused his foes to trembla 
After a brilliant and successfal reign, Kenneth died at Forte viot, or 
Abernethy, the Pictish capital, on the sixth day of February, in tlie 
year eight hundred and fifty-nine, having- ruled the Scots seven years, 
and the Scots and Picts jointly sixteen years, being a reign of twenty- 
three years. Kenneth was a jjrince of a very religious disposition, and, 
In the midst of his cares, did not forget the interests of religion. He 
built a church in Dunkeld, to which, in eight hundred and fifty, he removed 
the relics of St. Columba from lona. He is celebrated also as a legislator, 
and it is extremely probable that the union of the two nations rendered 
some legislative enactments for their mutual government necessary ; but 
no authentic traces of such laws now appear, the Macalpine laws which 
have been attributed to the son of Alpin being clearly apocryphal. 

Kenneth left a son, named Constantino, and a pious daughter, Maolm- 
huire,* celebrated by the Irish annalists. But Constantino did not im- 
mediately succeed his father, for the sceptre was assumed by Donal HI. 
his uncle, son of Alpin. The Gaelic bard calls him, " Dhomhnaill 
dhreachruaid," or Donal of the ruddy countetiance. He died at his 
palace of Balachoir, in the year eight hundred and sixty-three, after a 
short reign of four years It is said that the Scoto-Irish chiefs, during 
this reign, re-enacted the laws of Aodh-fin, the son of Eocha III. at 

Constantino, the son of Kenneth, succeeded his uncle Donal, and 
soon found himself involved in a dreadful conflict with the Danish pirates 
Having, after a contest, which lasted half a century, established them- 
selves in Ireland, and obtained secure possession of Dublin, the Vikingr 
directed their views towards the western coasts of Scotland, which they 
laid waste. These ravages were afterwards extended to the whole of 
the eastern coast, and particularly to the shores of the Frith of Forth ; 
but although the invaders were often repulsed, they never ceased to 
return and renew their attacks. In the year eight hundred and eighty- 
one, Constantino, in repelling an attack of the pirates at the head of his 
people, was slain near a rampart called the Danes* dyke, in the parisli 
of Crail. The Gaelic bard thus alludes to that event. 

** Gona bhrigh 

" Don churaidh do Chonstantin :" 
The hero Constantine bravely fought, 
Tlirotisjhout a lenathened rei<pi. 

Aodh or Hugh, the fair haired^ succeeded his brother Constantine in 
eight hundred and eighty-one. His reign was unfortunate, short, and 
troublesome. Grig, an artful Chieftain, who was Maormor of the 
country between the Dee and the Spey, having raised the standard of 
insurrection, Aodh endeavoured to put it down, but did not succeed ; 

* This name signifies in Gaelic the devotee of Blary. This lady was married, 1. 
to Aodh-Finlaith, who reigned in Ireland between 863 and 879 ; 2. to his successor, 
IMann-Sionna, who reigned from 897 to 916. Ogygia, p. 434. She had several sona 
who reien('t>in Ireland; and a daughter Ligach, who married Congul, Mte king of ItA- 
land. She died w 92l'i. 


and having been wounded in the bloody field of Strathallan, he was car- 
ried to Inverurie, where he died, after lingering two months, having 
held the sceptre only one year. 

Grig, the worthless chief who had waged war with his sovereign, 
now assumed tlie crown, and, either to secure his wrongful possession, 
or from some other motive, he associated with him in the government, 
Eoacha, son of Kn^ the British king of Strathclyde, and the grand- 
son, by a daughter, of Kenneth Macalpin. After a reign of eleven 
years, both Eoacha and Grig were forced to abdicate, and gave way 

Donal IV. who succeeded them in eight hundred and ninety-three. 
During his reign the kingdom was infested by the piratical incursions 
of the Danes. Although they were defeated by Donal in a well con- 
tested action at Collin, on the Tay, they nevertheless returned under 
Ivar O'lvar, from Ireland, in the year nine hundred and four, but 
they were gallantly repulsed, and their leader killed in a threatened 
attack on Forte viot, by Donal, who unfortunately also perished in 
defence of his people, after a reign of eleven years. 

Constantine III., the son of Aodh, a prince of a warlike and enter- 
prizing character, next followed. He had to sustain, during an unusually 
long reign, the repeated attacks of the Danes. In one invasion they 
plundered Dunkeld, and in nine hundred and eighty, they attempted 
to obtain the grand object of their designs, the possession of Forteviot 
in Strathern, the Pictish capital; but in this design, they were again 
defeated and forced to abandon the country. The Danes remained 
quiet for a few years, but in nine hundred and eighteen their fleet 
entered the Clyde, from Ireland, under the command of Reginald, 
where they were attacked by the Scots in conjunction with the 
Northern Saxons whom the ties of common safety had now united 
for mutual defence. Reginald is said to have drawn up his Danes 
in four divisions; the first headed by Godfrey O'lvar; the second by 
Earls; the third by Chieftains, and the fourth by Reginald himself, 
as a reserve. The Scots, with Constantine at their head, made a 
furious attack on the first three divisions, which they forced to retire. 
Reginald's reserve not being available to turn the scale of victory 
against the Scots, the Danes retreated during the night, and embai'ked 
on board their fleet. 

After this defeat of the Danes, Constantine enjoyed many years' 
repose. A long grudge had existed between him and ^thelstane, 
son of Edward, the elder, which at last came to an open rupture. 
Having formed an alliance with several princes and particularly with 
Anlof, king of Dublin as well as of Northumberland, and son-in-law 
of Constantine; the latter collected a large fleet in the year nine 
hundred and thirty-seven, with which he entered the Humber. The 
hope of plunder had attracted many of the Vikingr to Constantino's 
standard, and the sceptre of ^thelstane seemed now to tremble in his 
hand. But that monarch was fully prepared for the dangers with 

I. L 



wiiich he wfis threatened, and resolved to meet his enemies in battle. 
After a long, bloody, and obstinate contest at Brunanbui-g. near the 
southern shore of the Humber, victory declared for ^thelstane. 
l^rodigies of valour were displayed on both sides, especially by 
Turketel, the Chancellor of England; by Anlof, and by the son of 
Constantine, who lost his life. The confederates, after sustaining a 
heavy loss, sought for safety in their sliips. This, and after misfortunes, 
gradually disgusted Constantine with the vanities of this world, and. 
in the fortieth year of his reign, he put into practice a resolutior* 
w/jich he had formed of resigning his crown and embracing a monastic 
life. He became Abbot of the Monastery of St. Andrews, and thus 
ended a long and chequered life in a cloister, like Charles V. 

Malcolm I., the son of Donal IV., obtained the abdicated throne. 
He was a prince of great abilities and prudence, and Edmund of Eng- 
land courted his alliance by ceding Cumbria, then consisting of Cum- 
berland and part of Westmoreland, to him, in the year nine hundred 
and forty-five, on condition that he would defend that northern county, 
and become the ally of Edmund. Edred, the brother and successor of 
Edmund, accordingly applied for, and obtained the aid of Malcolm 
against Anlaf, king of Northumberland, whose country, according to 
the barbarous practice of the times, he wasted, and carried off the peo- 
ple with their cattle. Malcolm, after putting down an insurrection of 
tlie Moray-men under Cellach, their Maormor, or chief, wliora ho 
slew, was sometime thereafter assassinated, as is supposed, at Fetter- 
essoe, by one of these men, in revenge for the death of his chief. ^ 

Fndulph, the son of Constantine HI., succeeded the murdered mo- 
narch in the year nine hundred and fifty-three. He sustained many 
severe conflicts with the Danes, and ultimately lost his life, after a 
reign of eight years, in a successful action with these pirates, on the 
moor which lies to the westward of Cullen. This victory is known in 
the tradition of the country by the name of The Battle of the Bands, 
This battle took place in nine hundred and sixty-one. 

Duff, the son of Malcolm I., accoiding to the established order of 
succession, now mounted the throne; but Culen, the son of Indulf, laid 
claim to the sceptre which his father had wielded. The parties met at 
Duncrub, in Strathern, and, after a doubtful struggle, in which Doncha, 
the Abbot of Dunkeld, and Dubdou, the Maormor of Athol, the par- 
tizans of Culen, lost. their lives, victory declared for Duff. But this 
tiiumph was of short duration, for Duff was afterwards obliged tJ 
retreat from Forteviot into the north, and was assassinated at Forres 
'\i\ the year nine hundred and sixty-five, after a brief and unhappy reigu 
of four years and a half. 

Culen, the son of Indulf, succeeded, as a matter of course, to the 
crown of Duff, which he stained by his vices. He and bis brother 
H^ocha were slain in Lothian, in an action with the Britons of Strath - 
clyde, after an inglorious reign of four years and a Italf. This hap- 
pened in the year nine hundred and seventv. 


Kenneth III., son of Malcolm I., and brother of Duff, succeeded 
Culen the same year. He waged a successful war against the Britons 
of Strathclyde, and annexed their territories to his kingdom. During 
his reign the Danes meditated an attack upon Forteviot, or Dunkeld,' 
for the purposes of plunder ; and, with this view, they sailed up the Tay 
with a numerous fleet. Kenneth does not appear to have been fully 
prepared, being probably not aware of the intentions of the enemy ; 
but collecting as many of his chiefs and their followers as the spur of 
the occasion would allow, he met the Danes at Luncarty, m the vicinity 
of Perth, on the south-western side of the Tay, at a small distance from 
Inveralmond. Preparations for battle immediately commenced. Mal- 
colm, the Tanist, prince of Cumberland, commanded the right wing of 
the Scottish army ; Duncan, the Maormor of Athole, had the charge of 
the left ; and Kenneth, the king, commanded the centre. A furious 
combat ensued, and man stood singly opposed to man. The Danes with 
their battle-axes made dreadful havock, and compelled the two wings 
of the Scottish army to give way ; but they retired without much con- 
fusion, and rallied beliind the centre division, under the immediate 
command of the king. Here they were enabled to take up a new 
position on more advantageous ground, from which they renewed the 
combat with great vigour, and finally succeeded in repulsing the enemy, 
who, as usual, fled to their ships. 

The defeat of the Danes enabled Kenneth to turn his attention to 
the domestic concerns of his kingdom. His first thoughts were directed 
to bring about a complete change in the mode of succession to the 
crown, in order to perpetuate in. and confine the crown to his own des- 
cendants. This alterfition could not be well accomplished as long as 
Malcolm, the son of Duff, the Tanist of the kingdom, and prince of 
Cumberland, stood in the way ; and, accordingly, it has been said that 
Kenneth was the cause of the untimely death of prince Malcolm, who 
is stated to have been poisoned. It is said that Kenneth got an Act 
passed, that in future the son, or nearest male heir, of the king, should 
always succeed to the throne ; and that in case that son or heir were 
not of age at the time of the king's demise, that a person of rank should 
be chosen Regent of the kingdom, until the minor attained his fourteenth 
year, when he should assume the reins of government ; but whether 
such a law was really passed on the moot-hill of Scone or not, of 
which we have no evidence, certain it is that two other princes suc- 
ceeded to the crown before Malcolm, the son of Kenneth. Kenneth, 
after a reign of twenty-four years, was assassinated by Finella, the 
wife of the Maormor of the Mearns, and the daughter of Cunechat, 
the Maormor of Angus, in revenge for having put her only son to 
death while suppressing an insurrection in the Mearns. Tliis event 
took place in the year nine bundled and ninety-four. 

Constantino I V., son of Culen, characterized by the name cluin, or 
deceitful, by the Gaelic bard, succeeded ; but his right was disputed by 
Kenneth, the Grim, son of Dufl*. The dispute was decided in a battle 



near the river Almond, in Perthshire, where Constantine lost his life, 
in nine hundred and ninety-fiv9. 

Kenneth IV., surnamed Grimy from the strength of his body, the 
son of DuflF, now obtained the sceptre which he had coveted ; but he 
was disturbed in the possession thereof by Malcolm, the son of Ken- 
neth III., heir presumptive to the crown, and regulus or prince of 
Cumberland. By the interposition of Fothad, one of the Scottish 
bishops, the parties were, for some time, prevented from coming to 
blows, and it is said that a treaty was concluded, by which it was sti- 
pulated that Kenneth should wear the crown during his life, and that 
Malcolm and his heirs should succeed in future as intended by K*enneth 
III. But this treaty proved in the end only a truce, for Malcolm again 
took the field, and decided his claim to the crown in a bloody battle at 
Monivaird, in Strathern, in which Kenneth, after a noble resistance, 
received a mortal wound. This happened in the year one thousand 
and three, after Kenneth had reigned eight years. 

Malcolm II. now ascended the vacant throne, stained with the blood 
of the brave Kenneth ; but he was not destined to enjoy repose. Of 
him the Gaelic bard has said — 

*' Trocha blaidhain hreacaid rainn 

Ba righ manaidh, Maolcholaim." 
' Thirty years of variegated reign ; 

Was king by fate Malcolm. 

The Danes, who had now obtained a firm footing in England, di- 
rected their attention in an especial manner to Scotland, which they 
were in hopes of subduing. They had hitherto been defeated in every 
attempt they had made to establish themselves in the north ; but hav- 
ing become powerful by their vast possessions in England, they con- 
sidered that they now had great chances of success in their favour. 
Accordingly, immense preparations were made by the celebrated Sweyn 
to invade Scotland. He ordered Olaus, his viceroy in Norway, and 
Enet in Denmark, to raise a powerful ai-my, and to equip a suitable 
6eet. Sigurd, the Earl of Orkney, carried on an harrassing and preda- 
tory warfare on the shores of the Moray Frith, which he continued 
even after a matrimonial alliance he formed with Malcolm, by marry- 
ing his daughter ; but this was no singular trait in the character of a 
Vikingr, who plundered friends and foes with equal pleasure. The 
scene of Sigurd's operations was chosen by his brother northmen foi 
making a descent, which they eff'ected near Speymouth. They carried 
fire and sword through Moray, and laid siege to the fortress of Nairne, 
one of the strongest in the north. The Danes were forced to raise the 
siege for a time, by Malcolm, who encamped his army in a plain near 
Kilflos or Kinloss. In this position he was attacked by the invaders, 
and, after a severe action, was forced to retreat, after being seriously 
wounded. Nairno then surrendered, but the whole garrison were 
hanged, notwithstanding a capitulation which stipulated for their lives 
and properties. 


Having mustered all his forces, Malcolm, in the ensuing spring, march- 
ed north with his army, and encamped at Mortlach. This vvas in 
the year one thousand and ten. The Danes advanced to meet the 
Scots, and a dreadful and fierce conflict ensued, the result of which was 
long dubious. At length the northmen gave way and victory declared 
for Malcolm. Had the Danes succeeded they would in all probability have 
obtained as permanent a footing in North Britain as they did in 
England ; but the Scottish kings were determined, at all hazards, never 
to suffer them to pollute the soil of Scotland by allowing them even the 
smallest settlement in their dominions In gratitude to God for his 
victory, Malcolm, in pursuance of a vow which it is said he made on the 
field of battle, endowed a religious house at Mortlach with its appro- 
priate church erected near the scene of action. Pope Benedict 
afterwards confirmed this endowment, and Mortlach soon became the 
residence of a bishop. 

The Danes were not discouraged by this defeat. On the contrary, 
that, as well as some disasters which they met with on the coasts of Angus 
and Buchan, exasperated Sweyn who formed a determination to seek 
revenge by another descent. He therefore, despatched Camus, an able 
general, who effected a landing with his army on the coast of Angus, 
near to Panbride, but he had advanced but a very few miles when he 
was met by Malcolm, who attacked him with great fury and intrepidity. 
After a bloody contest the army of Camus gave way and their leader 
sought safety in flight, but he was closely pursued and was killed by a 
stroke from a battle-axe which cleft his skull asunder. The place of 
his overthrow is indicated by a monumental stone called Camus'' 

No defeat, however, could subdue the persevering attempts of tlie 
Danes, to subject North Britain to their sway. They renewed their 
enterprize again by landing on the coast of Buchan, about a mile west 
from Slaines Castle, in the parish of Cruden, but they were attacked 
and defeated by the Maormor of the District. The site of the field of 
battle has been ascertained by the discovery of human bones left expos- 
ed by the shifting or blowing of the sand. From the circumstance of 
a chapel having been erected in this neighbourhood dedicated to St. 
Olaus, the site of which has become invisible, by being covered with 
sand, the assertion of some writers that a treaty was entered into with 
the Danes, who were then Christians, by which it was stipulated, that 
the field of battle should be consecrated by a Bishop as a burying- place 
for the Danes who had fallen in battle, and that a church should be then 
built and priests appointed in all time coming to say masses for the 
souls of the slain, seems very probable. Another stipulation it is said 
was made, by which the Danes agreed to evacuate the Burgh-head of 
Moray, and finally to leave every part of the kingdom, which they 
accordingly did in the year one thousand and fourteen. 

• A huge skeleton was dwg up many years a^o near Camus'-Cross supposed to have 
been tliat of Camus. It was lying in a sepulchre which was erected with four stones. 


Some time after this Malcolm was engaged in a \yar with the 
Northumbrians, and, having led his army in one tliousand and eighteen, 
to Carham, near Werk, on the southern bank of the Tweed, where 
he was met by Uchtred, the Earl of Northumberland, a desperate 
battle took place which was contested with great valour on both 
sides. The success was doubtful on either side, though Uchtred claimed 
a victory, but he did not long enjoy the fruits of it, as he was soon 
thereafter assassinated when on his road to pay obeisarace to the great 
Canute. Endulf, the brother and successor of Uchtred, justly dreading 
the power of the Scots, was induced to cede Lothian to Malcolm for ever, 
who, on this occasion, gave oblations to the churches and gifts to the cler- 
gy, who in return transmitted his name to posterity. He was designed, 
oar excellence, rex victoriosissimus. 

The last struggle with which Malcolm was threatened, was with the 
celebrated Canute, who, for some cause or other not properly explained, 
entered Scotland in the year one thousand and thirty-one ; but these 
powerful parties appear not to have come to action. Canute's expedi- 
tion appears, from what followed, to have been fitted out, to compel 
Malcolm to do homage for Cumberland, for it is certain that Malcolm 
engaged to fulfil the conditions on which his predecessors had held that 
country, and that Canute thereafter returned to England. 

But the reign of Malcolm was not only distinguished by foreign 
wars, but by civil contests between rival chiefs. Finlegh, the Maor- 
nior of Ross, and the father of Macbeth, was assassinated" in one 
thousand and twenty, and about twelve years thereafter, Maolbride, 
the Maormor of Moray, grandfather of Lulach, was, in revenge for 
Finlegh's murder, burnt within his castle, with fifty of his men. 

At length after a splendid reign of thirty years, Malcolm slept with 
his fathers, and his body was transferred to lona, and interred with 
due solemnity among the remains of his predecessors. The story of 
his assassination is a mere fiction. 

Malcolm was undoubtedly a prince of great acquirements. He made 
many improvements in the internal policy of his kingdom, and in him 
religion always found a guardian and protector. But although Malcolm 
is justly entitled to this praise, he by no means came up to the standard 
of perfection assigned him by fiction. 

Duncan, son of Bethoc, one of the daugliters of Malcolm II., suc- 
ceeded his grandfather in the year one thousand and thirty-three. He 
had to sustain several severe conflicts wit'n the Danes, whom he finally 
repulsed from his dominions, and in virtue of the engagements of his 
grandfather, with Canute, he entered Northumberland in one thousand 
nnd thirty-five, and attacked Durham, but was forced to retire M'itli 
loss, according to an old English historian.* The unhappy fate of 
Duncan is too familiar to render any detail of the circumstances of that 
event necessary. The scene of Macbeth's perfidy was not at Inverness, 

• Sin.pon, Dun. p. SX 


as some ^Titers have erroneousl)'- laid it, but at Bothgowaiiaii, near 
Jliigin. Duncan had reigned only six years when he was assassinated 
by Macbeth, leaving- two infant sons, Malcolm and Donal, by a sister 
of Siward, the Earl of Northumberland. The former fled to Cum- 
berland, and the latter took refuge in the Hebrides on the death of 
their father. 

Macbeth, " snorting with the indigested fumes of the blood of his 
sovereign," immediately seized the gory sceptre. As several fictions 
have been propagated concerning the history and genealogy of Macbeth, 
we may mention that, according to the most authentic authorities, he 
was by birth Thane of Ross, and by his marriage with the Lady Gru- 
och, became also Thane of Moray, during the minority of Lnlach, the 
infant son of that lady, by her marriage with Gilcomgain, the Maonnor, 
or Thane of Moray. Lady Gruoch was the daughter of Boedhe, son 
of Kenneth IV. ; and thus Macbeth united in his own person many 
powerful interests which enabled him to take quiet possession of the 
throne of the murdered sovereign. He of course found no difficulty 
in getting himself inaugurated at Scone, under the protection of the 
clans of Moray and Ross, and the aid of those who favoured the pre- 
tensions of the descendants of Kenneth IV. 

Various attempts were made on the part of the partizans of Malcolm, 
son of Duncan, to dispossess Macbeth of the Throne. The most for- 
njidable was that of Siward, the powerful Earl of Northumberland, 
and the relation of Malcolm, who, at the instigation or command of 
l<]dward the Confessor, led a numerous army into Scotland in the year 
one thousand and fifty-four. They marched as far north as Dunsinnan, 
where they were met by Macbeth, who commanded his troops in per- 
son. A furious battle ensued, but Macbeth fled from the field after 
many displays of courage. The Scots lost 3000 men, and the Saxons 
1,500, including Osbert, the son of Siward. Macbeth retired to his 
fastnesses in the north, and Siward returned to Northumberland ; but 
Malcolm continued the war till the death of Macbeth, who was slain 
by Macduff, Thane of Fife, in revenge for the cruelties he had inflicted 
on his family, at Lumphanan, on the fifth day of December in the 
year one thousand and fifty-six. 

Macbeth was unquestionably a person of great vigour, and well fitted 
to govern in the age in which he lived ; and had he obtained the crown 
by fair and honourable means, his character might have stood well with 
posterity. He appears to have entertained some sentiments of com 
punction on account of his many crimes, for which he ofi'ered some 
expiation by deeds of charity and benevolence, and particularly by 
grants to the church ; but it is to be feared that his heart remained 

Lulach, the great-grandson of Kenneth IV., who fell at the battle of 
Monivaird in the year one thousand and three, being supported by the 
powerful influence of his own family, and that of the deceased monarch, 
ascended the throne at the age of twenty-five or twenty-six ; but Kis 


rftign lasted only a few months, he having fallen in battle at Essie, in 
Strathbogie, on the third day o^ April, one thousand and fifty-seven, in 
defending his crown against Malcolm. The body of Lulach was in- 
terred along with that of Macbeth, in lona, the common sepulchre, for 
many centuries, of the Scottish kings. 

Malcolm III., better known in history by the name of Malcolm Cean- 
more, or great head, vindicated his claim to the vacant throne after a 
two years' struggle. His first care was to recompense those who had 
assisted him in obtaining the sovereignty, and it is said that he created 
new titles of honour, by substituting earls for thanes; but this has been 
disputed, and there are really no sure data from which a certain con- 
clusion can be drawn. 

In the year one thousand and fifty-nine, Malcolm paid a visit to 
Edward the Confessor, during whose reign he lived on amicable terms 
with the English ; but after the death of that monarch he made a hos- 
tile incursion into Northumberland, and wasted the country. He even 
violated the peace of St. Cuthbert in Holy Island. 

William, Duke of Normandy, having overcome Harold in the battle 
of Hastings, on the fourteenth day of October, one thousand and sixty- 
six ; Edgar ^Etheling saw no hopes of obtaining the crown and took his 
departure from England along with his mother and sisters for Hungary : 
but they were driven by adverse winds into the Frith of Forth, and 
took refuge in a small port, which was afterwards named the Queen's- 
ferry, in memory of Queen Margaret. Malcolm on hearing of the dis- 
tress of the illustrious strangers, left his royal palace at Dunfermline 
to meet them, and invited them to Dunfermline, where they were hos- 
pitably entertained. Margaret, one of Edgar's sisters, was a princess 
of great virtues and accomplishments ; and she at once won the heart 
of Malcolm. 

The offer of his hand was accepted, and their nuptials were celebrated 
with great solemnity and splendour. This Queen was a blessing to the 
king, and to the nation, and appears to have well merited the appella- 
tion of Saint. There are iew females in history who can be compared 
with Queen Margaret, 

It is quite unnecessary, and apart from the object of the present work,' 
to enter into any details of the wars between Malcolm and William 
the Conqueror, and William Rufns. Suffice it to say, that both Mal- 
colm and his eldest son Edward were slain in an attack on Alnwick 
Castle, on the thirteenth day of November, one thousand and ninety- 
tlnee, after a reign of thirty-six years. Queen JNfargaret, who was on 
her death-bed, when this catastroplie occurred, died shortly after she 
received the intelligence with great composure and resignation to the 
will of God. Malcolm had six sons, viz., Edward, who was killed along 
with his fiuher, Edmund, Edgar, Ethelred, Alexander and David, and 
two daughters, Maud, who was married to Henry I. of England, and 
Mftry, who married Eustache, count of Boulogne. Of the sons, Edgar, 
Alexander, and David, successively came to the crown. 



On the demise of Malcolm, Donal-bane his brother, assumed the 
government; but Duncan, the son of Malcolm, who had lived many 
years in England, and held a high military rank under William Rufus, 
invaded Scotland with a large army of English and 2^Jormans, and forced 
Donai to retire for safety to the Hebrides. Duncan, whom some 
writers suppose to have been a bastard, and others a legitimate son of 
Malcolm, by a former wife, enjoyed the crown only six months, having 
been assassinated by Maolpeder, the Maormor of the Mearns, at Men- 
teith, at the instigation, it is believed, of Donal. Duncan left, by his 
wife Ethreda, daughter of Gospatrick, a son, William^ sometimes sur- 
named Fitz-Duncan. 

Donal-bane again seized the sceptre, but he survived Duncan only 
two years. Edgar ^theling having assembled an army in England, 
entered Scotland, and made Donal prisoner in an action which took place, 
in September one thousand and ninety-seven. He was imprisoned by 
orders of Edgar, and died at Roscobie in Forfarshire, after having been 
deprived of his eyesight, according to the usual practice of the age. 
The series of the Scoto-Irish Kings may be said to have ended with 

The accession of Kenneth to the Pictish throne, and the consequent 
union of the Scots and Picts, introduced, throughout the whole extent 
of the Pictish dominions, many usages which were peculiar to the Scoto- 
Irish. Some of these would require the force of a positive law to esta- 
blish them, while others would be gradually amalgamated with the Pic- 
tish customs. The authenticity of the Macalpine laws has been ques- 
tioned; but, without entering into a discussion upon such a dubious ques- 
tion, we think there can be no doubt that the new sovereign would find 
it necessary to make some regulations for the government of the two 
nations he had united. It certainly appears, that the Brehon law of the 
Scoto-Irish was introduced among the Picts under Kenneth. By this 
law every chief, or jiaith^ had a Brehon, or judge, within his district, 
and this office was hereditary, descending to the sons of the judge, who 
were brought up to the study of the law. The law of tanistry, which 
limited the right of succession to the crown to the royal line, but did 
not confine that succession to any direct series, was another character- 
istic in the new government, which superseded the Pictish law of suc- 
cession. This law which left the succession open to competition, and 
the only exception from which seems to have been, when a tanist, or 
heir presumptive, was appointed during the life of the reigning monarch, 
naturally produced innumerable disorders in the state, and weakened 
the government, and hence the many civil strifes, tumults, and assassi- 
nations we have witnessed during the whole sway of the Scoto-Irish 

We have already alluded to the poetry of the Celts. And here it may 
not be out of place to take some notice of their music, which seems to 
have been cultivated with greater success by the Scots, than by the 
Picts. A question has been raised by the genealogists of music, 

I A! 


whether she is the mother or daughter of poetry, or, in other words, 
whether music or poetry be the older art. Such a discussion appears to 
be neither instructive nor amusing, and may therefore be passed over 
with this simple remark, that the kindred and sister arts of poetry and 
music, are undoubtedly almost coeval in their origin. Among the 
Celts the science of music was cultivated with great care, and formed 
a branch of the education of the Bards. Some remains of the songs 
of the Druids are said still to exist,* and it is alleged that the chaunt- 
ing of the Druidical precepts in times of paganism, was imitated by the 
early Christians. This is indeed extremely probable. The primitive 
Christians did not, for many ages, devote their attention to the improve- 
ment of the melody of the church, and in the east they are supposed to 
liave long followed the music of the synagogue. The Gregorian 
chaunt, as used in the Catholic churches at Vespers, is conjectured to 
be nearly the same as that used by the Jews, with some trifling variations, 
made by St. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, and afterwards still far- 
ther improved by Pope Gregory the Great, from whom the music de 
rives its present name.-j- 

The great characteristics of the Gaelic music, are, its simplicity, ten- 
derness, and expression. All the ancient music is distinguished by the 
first quality; for the complex movements and intricate notes of modern 
composers were unknown to antiquity: but the latter qualities, which may 
be termed national, in as much as they are dependant upon the genius 
and character of a people, and the structure of language, are peculiar 
attributes of the music of the Highlanders. " The Welsh, the Scots, 
and the Irish, have all melodies of a simple sort, which, as they are 
connected together by cognate marks, evince at once their relationship 
and antiquity ."f 

The ancient Scottish scale consists of six notes, as shown in the an- 
nexed exemplification. No. 1. The lowest note. A, was afterwards 
added to admit of the minor key in wind instruments. The notes in 
the Diatonic scale. No. 2, were added about the beginning of the fif- 
teenth century, and when music arrived at its present state of perfection, 
the notes in the Chromatic scale. No. 3, were further added. Although 
many of the Scottish airs have had the notes last mentioned introduced 
into them, to please modern taste, they can be played without them, 
and without altering the character of the melody. Any person who 
understands the ancient scale can at once detect the later additions. 


No. I. ^_^_^^^^ 

-9- D E 

A C 

• Logan's Scottish Gael. Vol. II, 

f The Gregorian song consists of eight tones, of which four are called authentic, and 
four arc said to be plagal. Tlie former are confined to an octave; the plagal descmds 
from tlie lowor octave to the fourth below. 

i Caledonia 1. 4?t). 




F Fj O Gj A Aj 3 C C« 

The Gaelic music consists of different kinds or species. 1. Martial 
music, the Golltraidheacht of the Irish, and the Prosnachadh Cath of 
the Gael, consisting of a spirit-stirring measure, short and rapid. 
2. The Geantraidheacht, or plaintive, or sorrowful, a kind of music to 
which the Highlanders are very partial. The Coronach or lament, sung 
at funerals, is the most noted of this sort. 3. The Suantraidheacht, or 
composing, calculated to calm the mind, and to lull the person to sleep. 
4. Songs of peace, sung at the conclusion of a war. 5. Songs of victory 
sung by the bards before the king on gaining a victory. 6. Love songs. 
These last, form a considerable part of the national music, the sensi- 
bility and tenderness of which excites the passion of love, " and stim- 
ulated by its influence, the Gael indulge a spirit of the most romantic 
attachment and adventure which the peasantry of perhaps no other 
country exhibit."* 

" The ancient Gael were fond of singing, whether in a sad or cheer- 
ful frame of mind. Bacon justly remarks, ' that music feedeth that dis- 
position which it findeth:' it was a sure sign of brewing mischief, when 
a Caledonian warrior was heard to * hum his surly song.' This race, 
in all their labours, used appropriate songs, and accompanied their harps 
with their voices. At harvest the reapers kept time by singing; at sea 
the boatmen did the same; and while the women were graddaning, 
performing the luaghadh, or at other rural labour, they enlivened their 
work by certain airs called luineags. When milking, they sung a cer 
tain plaintive melody, to which the animals listened with calm atten- 
tion. The attachment which the natives of Celtic origin have to their 
music, is strengthened by its intimate connexion with the national 
songs. The influence of both on the Scots* character is confessedly 
great — the pictures of heroism, love, and happiness, exhibited in their 
songs, are indelibly impressed on the memory, and elevate the mind of 
the humblest peasant. The songs, united with their appropriate music, 
afi^ect the sons of Scotia, particularly when far distant from their native 
glens and majestic mountains, with indescribable feelings, and excite a 
spirit of the most romantic adventure. In this respect, the Swiss, who 
inhabit a country of like character, and who resemble the Highlanders 

• Logan II. 252-a 


in many particulars, experience similar eraoiions. On hearing the na- 
tional ranz de vaches, their bowels yearn to revisit the ever dear scenes 
of their youth. So powerfully is the amor patriae awakened by this 
celebrated air, that it was found necessary to prohibit its being played 
under pain of death among the troops, who would burst into tears on 
hearing it, desert their colours, and even die. 

" No songs could be more happily constructed for singing during 
labour, than those of the Highlanders, every person being able to join 
in them, sufficient intervals being allowed for breathing time. In a 
certain part of the song, the leader stops to take breath, when all the 
others strike in and complete the air with a chorus of words and sylla- 
bles, generally without signification, but admirably adapted to give 
effect to the time. In singing during a social meeting, the company 
reach their plaids or handkerchiefs from one to another, and swaying 
them gently in their hands, from side to side, take part in the chorus 
as above. A large company thus connected, and see-sawing in regular 
time, has a curious effect; sometimes the bonnet is mutually grasped 
over the table. The low country manner is, to cross arms and shake 
each other's hands to the air of " auld lang syne," or any other popu- 
lar and commemorative melody. Fhir a bhata, or, the boatmen, is 
sung in the above manner, by the Highlanders with much effect. It 
is the song of a girl whose lover is at sea, whose safety she prays for, 
and whose return she anxiously expects. The greater proportion of 
Gaelic songs, whether sung in the person of males or females, celebrate 
the valour and heroism, or other manly qualifications, of the Clans." * 

Connected with the Gaelic music, the musical instruments of the Celts 
remain to be noticed; but we shall confine our observations to the harp 
and to the bag-pipe, the latter of which has long since superseded the 
former in the Highlands. The harp is the most noted instrument of 
antiquity, and was in use among many nations. It was, in particular, 
the favourite instrument of the Celts. The Irish were great proficients 
in harp music, and they are said to have made great improvements on 
the instrument itself. So honourable was the occupation of a harper 
among the Irish, that none but freemen were permitted to play on tlie 
harp, and it was reckoned a disgrace for a gentleman not to have a 
harp, and be able to play on it. The royal household always included 
ii harper, who bore a distinguished rank. Even kings did not disdain 
to relieve the cares of royalty by touchinij^ the strings of the harp; and 
we are told by Major, that James I., who died in fourteen hundred 
and thirty-seven, excelled the best harpers among the Irish, and the 
IScotcli Highlanders. But harpers were not confined to the houses oi 
kings, for every chief had his harper, as well as his bard. 

The precise period when the harp was superseded by the bag-pipi' 
it is not easy to ascertain. Roderick Morrison, usually called Rory 
13 all, or the blind, was one of the last native harpers. He was harper 

♦ Logan II. 255. 


to the laird of M'Leod. On the death of his master, Morrison led an 
itinerant life, and in sixteen hundred and fifty, he paid a visit to 
Robertson of Lude, on which occasion he composed a porst or air, 
called Suipar chiurn na Leod, or Lude's Supper, which, with other 
pieces, is still preserved. M'Intosh, the compiler of the Gaelic 
Pioverhs, relates the following anecdote of Mr. Robertson, who, it 
appears, was a harp player himself of some eminence. " One night, 
my father, James M'Intosh, said to Lude, that he would be happy to 
hear him play upon the harp, which, at that time, began to give 
place to the violin. After supper, Lude and he retired to another 
room, in which there was a couple of harps, one of which belonged to 
Queen Mary. James, says Lude, here are two harps; the largest 
one is the loudest, but the small one is the sweetest, which do you 
wish to hear played? James answered the small one, which Lude 
took up, and played upon, till daylight." 

The last harper, as is commonly supposed, was Murdoch M'Donald, 
harper to M'Lean of Coll. He received instructions in playing from 
Rory Dall, in Sky, and afterwards in Ireland, and from accounts of pay- 
ments made to him, by M'Lean, still extant, Murdoch seems to have 
continued in his family till the year seventeen hundred and thirty-four, 
when he appears to have gone to Quinish, in Mull, where he died. 

The history of the bag-pipe is curious and interesting, but such 
history does not fall within the scope of this work. Although a very 
ancient instrument it does not appear to have been known to the 
Celtic nations. It was in use among the Trojans, Greeks and Romans; 
but how or in what manner it came to be introduced into the Highlands, 
is a question which cannot be solved. Two suppositions have been 
started on this point, either that it was brought in by the Romans, or by 
the Northern Nations. The latter conjecture appears to be the most 
probable, for we cannot possibly imagine, that if the bag-pipe had 
been introduced so early, as the Roman epoch, no notice should 
have been taken of that instrument, by the more early annalists and 
poets. But if the bag-pipe was an imported instrument, how does it 
happen that the great Highland pipe is peculiar to the Highlands, and 
is perhaps the only national instrument in Europe? If it was intro- 
duced by the Romans,or by the people of Scandinavia, how has it happen- 
ed that no traces of that instrument in its present shape are to be found 
anywhere except in the Highlands? There is, indeed^ some plausibility 
in these interrogatories, but they are easily answered by supposing, what 
is very probable, that the great bag-pipe, in its present form, is the 
work of modern improvement, and that, originally, the instrument was 
much the same, as is still seen in Belgium and Italy. 

The effects of this national instrument in arousing the feelings of 
those who have, from infancy, been accustomed to its wild and 
warlike tones are truly astonishing. " In halls of joy, and in scenes of 
mourning it has prevailed ; it has animated her (Scotland's) warriors 
in battle, and welcomed them back after their toils, to the homes of 


their love and the hills of their nativity. Its strains were the firsi 
sounded on the ears of infancy, and they are the last to be forgotten, in 
the wanderings of age. Even Highlanders will allow that it is not 
the gentlest of instruments ; but when far from their mountain homes, 
what sounds, however melodious, could thrill round their heart like one 
burst of their o^vn wild native pipe ? The feelings which other in- 
struments awaken, are general and undefined, because they talk alike 
to Frenchmen, Spaniards, Germans, and Highlanders, for they are 
common to all ; but the bag-pipe is sacred to Scotland, and speaks a 
language which Scotsmen only feel. It talks to them of home and all 
the past, and brings before them, on the bui-ning shores of India, the 
wild hills and oft frequented streams of Caledonia ; the friends that are 
thinking of them, and the sweethearts and wives that are weeping 
for them there ! and need it be told here, to how many fields of dan- 
ger and victory its proud strains have led ! There is not a battle 
that is honourable to Britain in which its war blast has not sounded. 
When every other instrument has been hushed by the confusion and 
cai-nage of the scene, it has been borne into the thick of battle, and, far 
in the advance, its bleeding but devoted bearer, sinking on the earth, 
has sounded at once encouragement to his countrymen and his own 
coronach."* Many interesting anecdotes connected with the use of 
this instrument on the field of battle will be given when we come to 
treat of the military history of the modern Highlanders. 

History has thrown little light on the state of learning in the 
Highlands during the Pictish and Scottish periods ; but, judging from 
the well-attested celebrity of the college of Icolm-kill, which shed its 
rays of knowledge over the mountains and through the glens of Cale- 
donia, we cannot doubt that learning did flourish in some degree among 
the Scots and Picts. The final destruction of the venerable abbey of 
lona, by the Danish pirates, unfortunately checked for a time the pro- 
gress of civilization, and swept away, as is supposed, the proofs collected 
by the monks in support of the learning of those times, and to which, 
if they had been preserved, the historian of future ages would have 
appealed. No man, no scholar, no christian can visit the hallowed ruins 
of tona without awakening associations, the most powerful and affect- 
ing. Dr. Johnson, the great and inflexible moralist, thus describes 
the emotions he felt on visiting this celebrated spot : " We were now 
treading tliat illustrious island, which was once the luminary of the 
Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived 
the benefit of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract 
tlie mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endea- 
voured, and would be foolish, if it were possible. Whatever withdraws 
us from the power of our senses, whatever makes the past, the distant, 
or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity 
of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid 

• rrefuce to MacdoniUd's Aaci«»ut Martial Music of Scotland. 



philosophy, as would conduct us, iridifFerent and unmoved, over any 
ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue I That 
man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force on 
the plains of Marathon, or whose pijety would not grow warm amon^ 
the ruins of lona." 



Date of 

Duration of 








Kenneth Macaliime over the Scots and Picts 








Constantine II., son of Kenneth . 




AoDH, or Hugh, the son of Kenneth 




EocHA, or Achy or Grig, jointly . 




Donal IV., the son of Constantine 




Constantine III., the son of Aodh 




Malcolm I., son of Donal IV. 




Indulf, the son of Constantine III. 




DuF, the son of Malcolm I. 




CuLEN, the son of Indulf 




Kenneth III., the son of Malcolm I. 




Constantine IV., the son of Culen 




Kenneth IV., surnamed Grim, the son of Duf 




Malcolm II., the son of Kenneth HI. 




Duncan, the grandson of Malcolm 11. . 




Macbeth, the son of Finlech . 




LuLACH, the son of Griioch and Gilcomgain . 




Malcolm-Ceanmore, the son of Duncan 




Donal-Bane, the son of Duncan . 




Duncan II., the son of Malcolm Hi. 




Donal-Bane, a^^ain . . 






iMiiloIogical demarcaion between the Hii^hlands and Lowlands — An^lo Saxr-n colonf- 
>ation of the Highlands— Characteristics of the Highlanders — Care shown by them in 
educating their Children — Highland Garb — Dress of the women — Antiquity of Tartan 
— Superstitions of the Highlanders — Kelpies, Urisks, Daoine Shi, &c. — Second Sigiit 
— Weddings — Matrimonial fidelity — Punishment of the breach thereof— Reciprocal 
attachment of Parents and Children — Disgrace and Punishment of Bankruptcy — 
Fidelity in performing engagements — Courage — Love of Country — Contempt of 
Death — Hospitality. 

We have now arrived at an era in our history, when the line of demar- 
cation between the inhabitants of the Lowlands and Highlands of Scot- 
land begins to appear, and when, by the influx of a Gothic race into the 
former, the language of that part of North Britain is completely revo- 
lutionized, when a new dynasty or race of sovereigns ascends the 
throne, and when a great change takes place in the laws and constitu- 
tion of the kingdom. 

At the epoch which closes the last chapter, the Gaelic was the al- 
most universal language of North Britain. In proof of this, reference 
has been made to proper names, or names of persons and places, which 
were all Gaelic during that period, as may be seen by consulting the 
ancient chartularies and chronicles, the annals of Ulster, and the re- 
gister of the Priory of St Andrews. In the Lowlands, however, some 
places still retain the British appellations conferred on them by the 
aboriginal inhabitants of North Britain. The cause of this may be 
owing to the close affinity between the same names in the British and 
Gaelic; and to this circumstance, thut the Gaelic language did not ob- 
tain such a complete mastery over the British in the Lowlands as in the 

Although the Anglo-Saxon colonization of the Lowlands of Scotland 
does not come exactly within the design of the present work ; yet, as 
forming an important feature in the history of the Lowlands of Scotland 
as contradistinguished from the Highlands, a slight notice of it may not 
be uninteresting. 

At the time when the Romans invaded North Britain, the whole 
population of both ends of the island consisted of a Celtic race, the 
descendants of it-, original inhabitants. Shortly after the Roman ab- 
dication of North Britain in the year four hundred and forty-six, 
which was soon succeeded by the final departure of the Romai»3 


from the British shores, the Saxons, a people of Gothic origin, establish- 
ed themselves upon the Tweed, and afterwards extended their settlements 
to the Frith of Forth and to the banks of the Solway and the Clyde 
About the beginning of the sixth century the Dalriads, as we have seen, 
landed in Kintyre and Argyle from the opposite coast of Ireland, and 
colonized these districts, from whence, in the course of little more than 
two centuries, they overspread the Highlands and western islands, which 
their descendants have, ever since, continued to possess. Towards the 
tnd of the eighth century, a fresh colony of Scots from Ireland settled 
in Galloway among the Britons and Saxons, and having overspread the 
whole of that country, were afterwards joined by detachments of the 
Scots of Kintyre and Argyle, in connexion with whom they peopled 
that peninsula. Besides these three races, who made permanent settle- 
ments in Scotland, the Scandinavians colonized the Orkney and Shet- 
land islands, and also established themselves on the coasts of Caithness 
and Sutherland. 

But notwithstanding these early settlements of the Gothic race, the 
era of the Saxon colonization of the Lowlands of Scotland is, with more 
propriety, placed in the reign of Malcolm Ceanmore, who, by his marriage 
with a Saxon princess, and the protection he gave to the Anglo-Saxon 
fugitives who sought for an asylum in his dominions from the persecu- 
tions of William the Conqueror, and his Normans, laid the foundations oi 
those great changes which took place in the reigns of his successors. 
Malcolm, in his warlike incursions into Northumberland and Dui- 
ham, carried off immense numbers of young men and women, who were 
to be seen in the reign of David I. in almost every village and house 
in Scotland. The Gaelic population was quite averse to the settlement 
of these strangers among them, and it is said that the extravagant mode 
of living introduced by the Saxon followers of Queen Margaret, was one 
of the reasons which led to their expulsion from Scotland, in the reign 
of Donalbane, who rendered himself popular with his people by this un- 
friendly act. 

This expulsion was, however, soon rendered nugatory, for on the acces- 
sion of Edgar, the first sovereign of the Scoto-Saxon dynasty, many dis- 
tinguished Saxon families with their followers settled in Scotland, to the 
heads of which families the king made grants of land of considerable 
extent. Few of these foreigners appear to have come into Scotland 
during the reign of Alexander I. the brother and successor of Edgar; 
but vast numbers of Anglo-Saxons, Anglo-Normans, and Flemings, esta- 
blished themselves in Scotland in the reign of David I. That prince 
had received his education at the court of Henry I. and had married 
Maud or Matildes, the only child of Waltheof earl of Northumberland 
and Huntingdon, by Judith, niece to William the Conqueror on the 
mother's side. This lady had many vassals, and when David came to 
the throne in the year one thousand one hundred and twenty-four, he 
was followed, successively, by a thousand Anglo-Normans, to whom he 


distributed lands, on which they and their followers settled. Most of 
the illustrious families in Scotland originated from this source. 

Malcolm Ceanmore had, before his accession to the throne, resided 
for some time in England as a fugitive, under the protection of Edward 
the Confessor, where he acquired a knowledge of the Saxon language j 
which language, after his marriage with the princess Margaret, became 
that of the Scottish court. This circumstance made that language 
fashionable among the Scottish nobility, in consequence of which and of 
the Anglo- Saxon colonization under David I., the Gaelic language was 
altogether superseded in the Lowlands of Scotland in little more than 
two centuries after the death of Malcolm. A topographical line of de- 
marcation was then fixed as the boundary between the two languages, 
which has ever since been kept up, and presents one of the most singu- 
lar phenomena ever observed in the history of philology. 

The change of the seat of government by Kenneth on ascending the 
Pictish throne, from Inverlochay, the capital of the Scots, to Abernethy 
also followed by the removal of the marble chair, the emblem of sover- 
eignty, from Dunstaffnage to Scone, appears to have occasioned no de- 
triment to the Gaelic population of the Highlands; but when Malcolm 
Ceanmore transferred his court about the year one thousand and sixty- 
six to Dunfermline, which also became, in place of lona, the sepulchre of 
the Scottish kings, the rays of royal bounty, which had hitherto diffused 
its protecting and benign influence over the inhabitants of the Highlands, 
were withdrawn, and left them a prey to anarchy and poverty. " The 
people," says General David Stewart, " now beyond the reach of the 
laws, became turbulent and fierce, revenging in person those wrongs for 
which the administrators of the laws were too distant and too feeble to 
afford redress. Thence arose the institution of chiefs, who naturally 
became the judges and arbiters in the quarrels of their clansmen and 
followers, and who were surrounded by men devoted to the defence of 
their rights, their property, and their power; and accordingly the chiefs 
established within their own territories a jurisdiction almost wholly in- 
dependent of their liege lord."* 

The connexion which Malcolm and his successors maintained with 
England, estranged still farther the Highlanders from the dominion o^ 
the sovereign and the laws ; and their history, after the Gaelic population 
of the Lowlands had merged into and adopted the language of the 
Anglo-Saxons, presents, with the exception of the wars between rival 
clans, which will be noticed afterwaids, nothing remarkable till their 
first appearance on the military theatre of our national history in the 
campaigns of Montrose, Dundee, and others. Of these campaigns and 
other interesting military achievements of the modern Highlanders, we 
intend to give the details ; but before entering upon that important and 
highly interesting portion of our labours, we mean to bring under the 

• Sketches. I. 2a 


notice of the reader such objects of general interest connected with the 
ancient state of the Highlands, and the character and condition of the 
Highlanders in former times, as may be considered interesting either in 
a local or national point of view. 

The early history of the Highlanders presents us with a bold and 
nardj"^ race of men, filled with a romantic attachment to their native 
mountains and glens, cherishing an exalted spirit of independence, and 
fiimly bound together in septs or clans by the ties of kindred. Hav- 
ing little intercourse with the rest of the world, and pent up for many 
centuries within the Grampian range, the Highlanders acquired a pe- 
culiar character, and retained or adopted habits and manners differing 
widely from those of their Lowland neighbours. " The ideas and em- 
ployments, which their seclusion from the world rendered habitual, — 
the familiar contemplation of the most sublime objects of nature, — the 
habit of concentrating their affections within the narrow precincts of their 
own glens, or the limited circle of their own kinsmen, — and the necessity 
of union and self-dependence in all difficulties and dangers, combined 
to form a peculiar and original character. A certain romantic senti- 
ment, the offspring of deep and cherished feeling, strong attachment to 
their country and kindred, and a consequent disdain of submission to 
strangers, formed the character of independence ; while an habitual 
contempt of danger was nourished by their solitary musings, of which 
the honour of their clan, and a long descent from brave and warlike 
ancestors, formed the frequent theme. Thus, their exercises, their 
amusements, their modes of subsistence, their motives of action, their 
prejudices and their superstitions, became characteristic, permanent, and 

" Firmness and decision, fertility in resources, ardour in friendship, 
and a generous enthusiasm, were the result of such a situation, such 
modes of life, and such habits of thought. Feeling themselves separated 
by Nature from the rest of mankind, and distinguished by their lan- 
guage, their habits, their manners, and their dress, they considered 
themselves the original possessors of the country, and regarded the 
Saxons of the Lowlands as strangers and intruders."* 

Like their Celtic ancestors, the Highlanders were tall, robust, and 
well formed. Early marriages were unknown among them, and it was 
rare for a female who was of a puny stature and delicate constitution to 
be honoured with a husband. The following observations of Martin on 
the inhabitants of some of the western islands may be generally ap- 
plied to the Highlanders : — " They are not obliged to art in forming 
their bodies, for Nature never fails to act her part bountifully to them; 
perhaps there is no part of the habitable globe where so few bodily im- 
perfections are to be seen, nor ony children that go more early. I 
have observed several of them walk alone before they were ten months 

• Stewart's Skelclies, I. 7, S, 


old : they are bathed all over every morning and evening, some in cold, 
some in warm water ; but the latter is most commonly used, and they 
wear nothing strait about them. The mother generally suckles the 
child, failing of which, a nurse is provided, for they seldom bring up any 
by hand : they give new born infants fresh butter to take away the 
mico7iium, and this they do for several days ; they taste neither sugar, 
nor cinnamon, nor have they any daily allowance of sack bestowed on 
them, as the custom is elsewhere, nor is the nurse allowed to taste ale. 
The generality wear neither shoes nor stockings before they are se- 
ven, eight, or ten years old ; and many among them wear no night 
caps before they are sixteen years old, and upwards ; some use none all 
their life-time, and these are not so liable to headaches as others wlio 
keep their heads warm."* 

This practice of bathing children every morning and evening contri- 
Dutes more than any other expedient to steel the body against cold, and 
to preserve the frame from rheumatic affection. Nor did this healthy 
operation cease with childhood, — it was continued in after life, and the 
practice still is with those who wear the kilt to wash their limbs every 
morning as a preventive against cold. These precautions made the 
Highlanders impervious to cold, and indifferent to warm and cumbrous 
clothing. Their wardrobe was, of course, very scanty, but quite suffi- 
cient for useful purposes, — comfort and cleanliness. 

As a proof of the indifference of the Highlanders to cold, reference 
has been made to their often sleeping in the open air during the severi- 
ty of winter. Birt, wlio resided among them and wrote in the year 
seventeen hundred and twenty-five, relates that he has seen the places 
which they occupied, and which were known by being free from the 
snow that deeply covered the ground, except where the heat of their 
bodies had melted it. The same writer represents a chief as giving of- 
fence to his clan by his degeneracy in forming the snow into a pillow 
before he lay down. " The Highlanders were so accustomed to sleej) 
in the open air, that the want of shelter was of little consequence to 
them. It was usual before they lay down, to dip their plaids in water, 
by which the cloth was less pervious to the wind, and the heat of their 
bodies produced a warmth, which the woollen, if dry, could not afibrd. 
An old man informed me, that a favourite place of repose was under a 
cover of thick over-hanging heath. The Highlanders, in 1745, could 
scarcely be prevailed on to use tents. It is not long since those who 
frequented Lawrence fair, St Sair's, and other markets in the Garioch 
of Aberdeenshire, gave up the practice of sleeping in the open fields. 
The horses being on these occasions left to shift for themselves, the in- 
habitants no longer have their crop spoiled, by their * upthrough 
neighbours,' with whom they had often bloody contentions, in conse- 
quence of these unceremonious visits."f 

• Martin's ^V ostein Island?, 2d edit. p. 194, 1115. f Logan I. 404, 40J. 


Till of late years the general opinion was that the plaid, phllebeg 
and bonnet formed the ancient garb of the Highlanders, but some 
^vTite^s have maintained that the philebeg is of modern invention, and 
that the truis, which consisted of breeches and stockings in one piece, 
and made to fit close to the limbs, was the old costume. Pinkerton 
says, that the kilt " is not ancient, but singular, and adapted to their" 
— the Highlanders' — " savage life, — was always unknown among the 
Welsh and Irish, and that it was a dress of the Saxons, who could not 
afford breeches."* We like an mgenious argument even from the pen 
of this vituperative writer, with all his anti-Gaelic prejudices, and have 
often admired his tact in managing it ; but after he had admitted that 
" breeches were unknown to the Celts, from the beginning to this 
day,"f It was carrying conjecture too far to attribute the introduction of 
the philebeg to the Saxons, who were never able to introduce any of 
their customs into the Highlands ; and of all changes in the dress of a 
people, we think the substitution of the kih for the truis the most im 

That the truis are very^ ancient in the Highlands is probable, but 
tliey were chiefly confined to the higher classes, who always used them 
when travelling on horseback. Beague, a Frenchman, who wrote a 
history of the campaigns in Scotland in fifteen hundred and forty- 
nine, printed in Paris in fifteen hundred and fifty-six, states that, at 
the siege of Haddington, in fifteen hundred and forty-nine, " they 
(the Scottish army) were followed by the Highlanders, and these 
last go almost naked ; they have painted waistcoats, and a sort of wool- 
len covering, variously coloured." 

The style of dress is alluded to by our older historians, by Major, 
Bishop Lesly, and Buchanan. Lindsay of Pitscottie also thus notices 
it : — " The other pairt northerne ar full of mountaines, and very rud 
and homelie kynd of people doeth inhabite, which is called the Reid 
Schankes, or wyld Scottis. They be cloathed with ane mantle, with 
ane schirt, fachioned after the Irish manner, going bair legged 
to the knie."f Another who wrote before the year fifteen hundred and 
ninety -seven, observes that, in his time, " they" — the Highlanders^" de- 
light much in marbled cloths, especially that have long stripes of sundry 
colours ; they love chiefly purple and blue ; their predecessors used short 
mantles, or plaids of divers colours, sundrie ways divided, and among some, 
tlie same custom is observed to this day ; but, for the most part now, 
they are brown, most near to the colour of the hadder, to the eflect when 
they lye among the hadders, the bright colour of their plaids shall not 
l)ewray them, with the which, rather coloured than clad, they suffer the 
most cruel tempests that blow in the open fields, in such sort, that in 
a night of snow they sleep sound. '§ 

• Introduction to History of Scotland, II. 7a f Ibid. I. 3(>L 

t Chronicles of Scotland, Ixxiv. 

§ Ct<ilayne Mattere concei-ning Scotlaitd, Lumlon, printed IGOJl. 


There was nothing a Highlander took so much delight in as the im- 
provement of his personal appearance by the aid of dress. The poini 
of personal decoration being once secured, it mattered not, says Gene- 
ral Stewart, that his dwelling was mean, his domestic utensils scanty, 
and of the simplest construction, and his house and furniture merely 
such as could be prepared by his o^\^l hands, i'et, with all his gay 
tendencies, the Highlander looked upon the occupations of the tailor 
and weaver with profound contempt, and as fit only for sickly and effemi- 
nate persoiis. He did not disdain, however, to be his own shoemaker, 
cooper, and carpenter, all of which he considered honourable profes- 
sions, when confined at least to the supply of his own domestic necessi- 
ties. We shall now give a description of the different parts of the High- 
land costume : — 

The Breacan-feile, literally, the chequered covering, is the original 
garb of the Highlanders, and forms the chief part of the costume ; 
but it is now almost laid aside in its simple form. It consisted of 
a plain piece of tartan from four to six yards in length, and two 
yards broad. The plaid was adjusted with great nicety, and made 
to surround the waist in great plaits or folds, and -vvas firmly bound 
round the loins with a leathern belt in such a manner that the lower 
side fell down to the middle of the knee joint, and then, while there 
were the foldings behind, the cloth was double before. The upper 
part was then fastened on the left shoulder with a large brooch or 
pin, so as to display to the most advantage the tastefulness of the 
arrangement, the two ends being sometimes suffered to hang down ; but 
that on the right side, which was necessarily the longest, was more 
usually tucked under the belt. In battle, in travelling, and on other 
occasions, this added much to the commodiousness and grace of the cos- 
tume. By this arrangement, the right arm of the wearer was left 
uncovered and at full libeny ; but in wet or very cold weather the plaid 
was thrown loose, by which both body and shoulders were covered. To 
give free exercise for both arms in case of need, the plaid was fastened 
across the breast by a large silver bodkin, or circular brooch, often en- 
riched with precious stones, or imitations of them, having mottos 
engraved, consisting of allegorical and figurative sentences.* Although 
the belted plaid was peculiar to the Highlanders, it came gradually to 
he worn by some of the inhabitants of the Lowland districts adjoining 
the Hishlands; but it was discontinued about the end of the last 

As the Breacan was without pockets, a purse, called sporan by the 
Highlanders, was fastened or tied in front, which was very serviceable- 
This purse was made of goats* or badgers' skin, and sometimes of leather, 
and was neither so large nor so gaudy as that now in use. People of 
rank or condition ornamented their })urscs sometiuies with a silver 

• Stewart's Sketches, I. 1\, 


mouthpiece, and fixed the tassels and other appendages with silver fasten- 
ings; but in general the mouthpieces were of brass, and the cords 
employed were of leather neatly interwoven. The sporan was divided 
into several compartments. One of these was appropriated for holding 
a watch, another money, &c. The Highlanders even carried their shot 
in the sporan occasionally, but for this purpose they commonly carried 
a wallet at the right side, in which they also stowed when travelling, a 
quantity of meal and other provisions. This military knapsack \v?s 
called dorlach by the Highlanders. 

The use of stockings and shoes is comparatively of recent date in the 
Highlands. Originally they encased their feet in a piece of untanned 
hide, cut to the shape and size of the foot, and drawn close together with 
leather thongs, a practice which is observed by the descendants of tlie 
Scandinavian settlers in the Shetland islands even to the present daj^ ; 
but this mode of covering the feet was far from being general, as the 
greater part of the population went barefooted. Such was the state of 
the Highlanders who fought at Killicrankie ; and Birt, who wrote up- 
wards of a century ago, says that he visited a well-educated and polite 
Laird, in the north, who wore neither shoes nor stockings, nor had anj^ 
covering for his feet. A modern writer observes, that when the High- 
land regiments were embodied during the French and American wars, 
hundreds of the men were brought down without either stockings or 

The stockings, which were originally of the same pattern with the 
plaid, were not knitted, but were cut out of the web, as is still done in 
the case of those worn by the common soldiers in the Highland regi- 
ments ; but a great variety of fancy patterns are now in use. The 
garters were of rich colours, and broad, and were wrought in a small 
loom, which is now almost laid aside. Their texture was very close, 
which prevented them from wrinkling, and displayed the pattern 
to its full extent. On the occasion of an anniversary cavalcade, on 
Michaelmas day, by the inhabitants of the island of North Uist, when 
persons of all ranks and of both sexes appeared on horseback, the women, 
in return for presents of knives and purses given them by the men, pre- 
sented the latter " with a pair of fine garters of divers colours."-|- 

The bonnet, of which there were various patterns, completed the na- 
tional garb, and those who could afford had also, as essential accompani- 
ments, a dirk, with a knife and fork stuck in the side of the sheath, and 
sometimes a spoon, together with a pair of steel pistols. 

The garb, however, differed materially in quality and in ornamental 
display, according to the rank or ability of the wearer. The short coaf 
and waistcoat worn by the wealthy, were adorned with silver buttons, 
tassels, embroidery, or lace, according to the taste or fashion of the times ; 
and even " among the better and more provident of the lower ranks," 

t Maitin's Western Islands, 2d Edit. p. SO. 
I. O 


as General Stewart remarks, silver buttons were frequently found, wliicli 
iiad come down to them as an inheritance of long descent. The same 
author observes, that the reason for wearing these buttons, which were 
of a large size and of solid silver, was, that their value might defray the 
expense of a decent funeral in the event of the wearer falling in battle, 
or dying in a strange country and at a distance from his friends. The 
officers of Mackay's and Munroe's Highland regiments, who served 
under Gustavus Adolphus in the wars of sixteen hundred and twenty- 
six, and sixteen hundred and thirty-eight, in addition to rich buttons, 
wore a gold chain round the neck, to secure the owner, in case of being 
wounded or taken prisoner, good treatment, or payment for future 

Although shoe buckles now form a part of the Highland costume, 
they were unknown in the Highlands one hundred and fifty years ag». 
The ancient Highlanders did not wear neckcloths. Their shirts were 
of woollen cloth, and as linen was long expensive, a considerable time 
elapsed before linen shirts came into general use. We have heard an 
old and intelligent Highlander remark, that rheumatism was almost, if 
not wholly, unknown in the Highlands until the introduction of linen 

It is observed by General Stewart, that " among the circumstances 
which influenced the military character of the Highlanders, their pecu- 
liar garb was conspicuous, which, by its freedom and lightness, enabled 
them to use their limbs, and to handle their arms with ease and celerity, 
and to move with great speed when employed with either cavalry or 
light infantry. In the wars of Gustavus Adolphus, in the civil wars of 
Charles I., and on various other occasions, they were oflen mixed with 
the cavalry, affording to detached squadrons the incalculable advantage 
of support from infantry, even in their most rapid movements." " I 
observed," says the author of ' Memoirs of a Cavalier,' speaking of the 
Scots army in sixteen hundred and forty, " I observed that these parties 
had always some foot with them, and yet if the horses galloped or pushed 
on ever so forward, the foot were as forward as they, which was an ex- 
traordinary advantage. These were those they call Highlanders ; they 
would run on foot with all their arms, and all their a(!coutrements, and 
kept very good order too, and kept pace with the horses, let them go at 
what rate they would." 

Among the different costumes with which we are acquainted, none 
can stand comparison with tlie Highland garb for gracefulness. The 
nice discernment and correct taste of Eustace preferred it to the formal 
and gorgeous drapery of the Asiatic costume. Its utilitij, now that 
such a complete change has been effected in the manners and con- 
dition of the people, may be questioned, but it must be admitted on all 
hands, that a more suitable dress for the times when it was used, could 
not have been invented. 

The dress of the women seems to require some little notice. Till 


marriage, or till they arrived at a certain age, they went with the head bare, 
the hair being tied with bandages or some slight ornament, after which 
they wore a head-dress, called the curch, made of linen, which was tied 
under the chin ; but when a young woman lost her virtue and character 
she was obliged to wear a cap, and never afterwards to appear bare-headed. 
Martin's observations on the dress of the females of the western islands, 
may be taken as giving a pretty correct idea of that worn by those of 
the Highlands. " The women wore sleeves of scarlet cloth, closed at 
the end as men's vests, with gold lace round them, having plate buttons 
set with fine stones. The head-dress was a fine kerchief of linen, strait 
about the head. The plaid was tied before on the breast, with a buckle 
of silver or brass, according to the quality of the person. I have seen 
some of the former of one hundred merks value ; the whole curiously 
engraved with various animals. There was a lesser buckle which was 
worn in the middle of the larger. It had in the centre a large piece of 
crystal, or some finer stone, of a lesser size." The plaid, which, with 
the exception of a few stripes of red, black, or blue, was white, reached 
from the neck almost to the feet ; it was plaited, and was tied round the 
waist by a belt of leather, studded with small pieces of silver. 

The antiquity of the tartan has been called in question by several 
writers, who have maintained that it is of modern invention ; but they 
have given no proofs in support of their assertion. We have seen that 
an author who wrote as far back as the year fifteen hundred and ninety 
seven, mentions this species of cloth ; and in the account of charge and 
discharge of John, Bishop of Glasgow, Treasurer to King James III. 
in fourteen hundred and seventy one, the following entries occur: — 

" An elne and ane halve of blue tartane to lyne his gowne 

of cloth of gold, £1 10 6 

" Four elne and ane halve of tartane for a sparwurt aboun 

his credill, price ane elne, 10s 2 5 

" Halve ane elne of duble tartane to lyne collars to her 
lady the Queue, price 8 shillings." 
It is therefore absurd to say that tartan is a modern invention. 

When the great improvements in the process of dyeing by means of 
chemistry, are considered, it will appear surprising, that without any 
knowledge of this art, and without the substances now employed, the 
Highlanders should have been able, from the scanty materials which their 
country afforded, to produce the beautiful and lasting colours which 
distinguished the old Highland tartan, some specimens of which are un- 
derstood still to exist, and which retain much of their original bril- 
liancy of colouring. " In dyeing and arranging the various colours of 
their tartans, they displayed no small art and taste, preserving at the 
same time the distinctive patterns (or sets, as they were called) of the 
different clans, tribes, families, and districts. Thus, a Macdonald, a 
Campbell, a Mackenzie, «Src. was known by his plaid ; and, in like man- 
ner, the Athole, Glenorchy, and other colours of different districts, were 


easily distinguishable. Besides those general divisions, industrious 
housewives had patterns, distinguished by the set, superior quality, and 
fineness of cloth, or brightness and vaiiety of the colours. In those 
times, when mutual attachment and confidence subsisted between the 
proprietors and occupiers of land in the Highlands, the removal of ten- 
ants, except in remarkable cases, rarely occurred; and, consequently, it 
was easy to preserve and perpetuate any particular set or pattern, even 
among the lower orders." * 

The Highlanders, in common with most other nations, were much 
addicted to superstition. The peculiar aspect of their country, in 
which nature appears in its wildest and most romantic features, exhi- 
biting at a glance sharp and rugged mountains, with dreary wastes — ■ 
wide-stretched lakes, and rapid torrents, over which the thunders and 
lightnings, and tempests, and rains, of heaven, exhaust their terrific ragCj 
wrought upon the creative powers of the imagination, and from these 
appearances, the Highlanders " were naturally led to ascribe every dis- 
aster to the influence of superior powers, in whose character the predo- 
minating feature necessarily was malignity towards the human race."-|- 

The most dangerous and most malignant creature was the kelpie, or 
water-horse, which was supposed to allure women and children to his 
subaqueous haunts, and there devour them. Sometimes he w^ould swell 
tlie lake or torrent beyond its usual limits, and overwhelm the unguard- 
ed traveller in the flood. The shepherd, as he sat upon the brow of a 
rock in a summer's evening, often fancied he saw this animal dashing 
along the surface of the lake, or browsing on the pasture-ground upon 
iis verge. 

The urisks, who were supposed to be of a condition somewhat inter- 
mediate between that of mortal men and spirits, " were a sort of lubbary 
supernaturals, who, like the brownies of England, could be gained over 
by kind attentions to perform the drudgery of the farm ; and it was be- 
lieved that many families in the Highlands had one of the order attached 
to it." :j: The urisks were supposed to live dispersed over the High- 
lands, each having his own wild recess ; but they were said to hold 
stated assemblies in the celebrated cave called Coire-nan~Uriskin, situ- 
ated near the base of Ben- Venue, in Aberfoyle, on its northern shoulder. 
It overhangs Loch Katrine " in solemn grandeur," and is beautifully 
and faithfully described by Sir Walter Scott.§ 

• Stewart's Sketches, vol. I. p. 76. f (ir?iham's Sketches of l*erthshire. \ Ibid. 
§ " It was a wild and strange retreat, 
As e'er was trod by outlaw's feet. 
The dell, upon the mountain's crest. 
Yawned like a gash on warrior's breast ; 
f Its trench had staid full many a rock, 

Hurl'd by primeval earthquake shock 
Frona Ben- Venue's grey summit wild, 
And here, in random ruin piled, 
They frowned incumbent o'er the spot, 
And formed the rugged sylvan grou 


Tlie urisks, though generally inclined to mischief, were supposed to 
relax in this propensity, if kindly treated by the families which they 
haunted. They were even serviceable in some instances, and in this 
point of view were often considered an acquisition. Each family regu- 
larly set down a bowl of cream for its urisk, and even clothes were 
sometimes added. The urisk resented any omission or want of atten- 
tion on the part of the family; and tradition says, that the urisk of 
Glaschoil, a small farm about a mile to the west of. Ben- Venue, havmg 
been disappointed one night of his bowl of cream, after performing the 
task allotted him, took his departure about day-break, uttering a horrible 
shriek, and never again returned. 

The Daoine Shith, or Shi' (men of peace), or as they are sometimes 
called, Daoine matha (good men), come next to be noticed. Dr P. 
Graham considers the part of the popular superstitions of the Highlands 
which relates to these imaginary persons, and which is to this day re- 
tained, as he observes, in some degree of purity, as " the most beautiful 
and perfect branch of Highland mythology." 

Although it has been generally supposed that the mythology of the 
Daoine Shi' is the same as that respecting the fairies of England, as 
portrayed by Shakspeare, in the Midsummer Night's Dream, and 
perhaps, too, of the Orientals, they differ essentially in many important 

The Daoine Shi', or men of peace, who are the fairies of the High- 
landers, " though not absolutely malevolent, are believed to be a pee- 
vish repining race of beings, who, possessing themselves but a scanty 
portion of happiness, are supposed to envy mankind their more com- 
plete and substantial enjoyments. They are supposed to enjoy, in their 

The oak and birch, with mingled shade, 
At noontide there a twilight made, 
Unless where short and sudden shone 
From straggling beam on cliff or stone. 
With such a glimpse as prophet's eye 
Gains on thy depth, Futurity. 
No murmur wak'd the solemn still, 
Save tinkling of a fountain rill ; 
But when the wind chafed with the lake, 
A sullen sound would upward break, 
With dashing hollow voice, that spoke 
The incessant war of wave and rock. 
Suspended cliffs, with hideous sway, 
Seem'd nodding o'er the cavern grey. 
From such a den the wolf had sprung. 
In such a wild cat leaves her young ; 
Yet Douglas and his daughter fair 
Sought for a space their safety there. 
Groy Superstition's whisper dread, 
Debarred the spot to vulgar tread ; 
For there, she said, did fays resort. 
And satyrs hold their sylvan court, 
By moon-light tread their mystic maze. 
And blast tlie rash beholder's gaze." 

Lady of the Lake, c. iii. s. 26. 


subterraneous recesses, a sort of shadowy happiness, a tinsel grandeur, 
which, however, they would willingly exchange for the more solid joys 
of mortals." * Green was the colour of the dress which these men of 
peace always wore, and they were supposed to take offence when any 
of the mortal race presumed to wear their favourite colour. The High- 
landers ascribe the disastrous result of the battle of Killiecrankie to the 
circumstance of Viscount Dundee having been dressed in green on that 
ill-fated day. This colour is even yet considered ominous to those of 
his name who assume it. 

The abodes of the Daoine Shi' are supposed to be below grassy emi- 
nences or knolls, where, during the night, they celebrate their festivities 
by the light of the moon, and dance to notes of the softest musicf 
Tradition reports that they have often allured some of the human race 
into their subterraneous retreats, consisting of gorgeous apartments, and 
that they have been regaled with the most sumptuous banquets and de- 
licious wines. Their females far exceed the daughters of men in beauty. 
If any mortal shall be tempted to partake of their repast, or join in their 
pleasures, he at once forfeits the society of his fellow-men, and is bound 
down irrevocably to the condition of a Shi'ich, or man of peace. 

" A woman," says a Highland tradition, " was conveyed, in days of 
yore, into the secret recesses of the men of peace. There she was re- 
cognised by one who had formerly been an ordinary mortal, but who 
had, by some fatality, become associated with the Shi'ichs. This ac- 
quaintance, still retaining some portion of human benevolence, warned 
her of her danger, and counselled her, as she valued her liberty, to ab- 
stain from eating or drinking with them for a certain space of time. 
She complied with the counsel of her friend ; and when the period 
assigned was elapsed, she found herself again upon earth, restored to 
the society of mortals. It is added, that when she had examined the 
viands which had been presented to her, and which had appeared so 
tempting to the eye, they were found, now that the enchantment had 
been removed, to consist only of the refuse of the earth." 

Some mortals, however, who had been so unhappy as to fall into the 
snares of the Shi'ichs, are generally believed to have obtained a release 
from Fairyland, and to have been restored to the society of their friends. 
Ethert Brand, according to the legend, was released by the intrepidity 
of his sister, as related by Sir Walter Scott in the fourth Canto of the 
Lady of the Lake : — 

* Graham's Sketches. 

t The belief in Fairies is a popular superstition among the Shetlanders. The margin 
of a small lake called the Sandy Loch, about two miles from lierwick, is celebrated for 
having been their favounte resort It is said that they often valk in procession along the 
aides of the loch in different costumes. Some of the natives used frequently, when pass- 
ing by a knoll, to stop and listen to the music of tJie fairies, and when the music ceased, 
they would hear the rattling of the pewter plates which were to be ustwl at supper. The 
fairies sometimes visit the Shetland barns, from which they are usually ejected by means 
of a finil, which the proprietor wields with great agility, thumping and threshing ij» 
every direction. 


♦* She crossed liim thrice that lady bold : 

He rose beneath her hand, 
The fairest knight on Scottish mould, 

Her brother, Ethert Biand!" 

A recent tradition gives a similar story, except in its unfortunate 
catastrophe, and is thus related by Dr Patrick Grahame in his " Sketches 
of Perthshire." 

The Rev. Robert Kirk, the first translator of the Psalms into Gaelic 
verse, had formerly been minister at Balquidder ; and died minister of 
Aberfoyle, in 1688, at the early age of 42. His gravestone, which 
may be seen near the east end of the church of Aberfoyle, bears the 
inscription which is given underneath.^ He was walking, it is said, 
one evening in his night-gown, upon the little eminence to the west 
of the present manse, which is still reckoned a Dun-shi, He fell down 
dead, as was believed ; but this was not his fate : — 

" It was between the night and day, 

When the fairy king has power, 
That he sunk down (but not) in sinful fray. 
And, 'twixt life and death, was snatched away, 

To the joyless Elfin bower." 

Mr Kirk was the near relation of Mr Graham of Duchray, the an- 
cestor of the present General Graham Stirling. Shortly after his fune- 
ral, he appeared in the dress in which he had sunk down, to a mutual 
relation of his own and of Duchray. " Go," said he to him, " to my 
cousin Duchray, and tell him that I am not dead ; I fell down in a 
swoon, and was carried into Fairy-land, where I now am. Tell him, 
that when he and my friends are assembled at the baptism of my child 
— ^for he had left his wife pregnant — I will appear in the room, and that 
if he throws the knife which he holds in his hand over my head, I will 
be released, and restored to human society." The man, it seems, ne- 
glected for some time, to deliver the message. Mr Kirk appeared to 
him a second time, threatening to haunt him night and day till he ex- 
ecuted his commission, which at length he did. The day of the baptism 
arrived. They were seated at table. Mr Kirk entered, but the laird of 
Duchray, by some unaccountable fatality, neglected to perform the 
prescribed ceremony. Mr Kirk retired by another door, and. was seen 
no more. It is firmly believed that he is, at this day, in Fairy-land. 

Another legend in a similar strain is also given as communicated by 
a very intelligent young lady : — 

" A young man roaming one day through the forest, observed a 
number of persons, all dressed in green, issuing from one of those 
round eminences which are commonly accounted fairy hills. Each of 
them, in succession, called upon a person by name, to fetch his horse. 
A caparisoned steed instantly appeared ; they all mounted, and sallitid 

I RoBERTUs Kirk, A. M. I^nou^ HiBERNii(c)iE lumen, Objit, Sic 


forth into the regions of the air. The young man, like Ali Baba in the 
Arabian Nights, ventured to pronounce the same name, and called for 
his horse. The steed immediately appeared ; he mounted, and was 
soon joined to the fairy choir. He remained with them for a year, go- 
ing about with them to fairs and weddings, and feasting, though unseen 
by mortal eyes, on the victuals that were exhibited on those occasions. 
They had, one day, gone to a wedding, where the cheer was abun- 
dant. During the feast the bridegroom sneezed. The young man, ac- 
cording to the usual custom, said, * God bless you.'* The fairies were 
offended at the pronunciation of the sacred name, and assured him, 
that if he dared to repeat it they would punish him. The bridegroom 
meezed a second time. He repeated his blessing ; they threatened more 
tlian tremendous vengeance. He sneezed a third time ; he blessed im 
as before. The fairies were enraged ; they tumbled him from a preci- 
pice, but he found himself unhurt, and was restored to the society of 

The Shi'ichs, or men of peace, are supposed to have a design against 
new-born children, and women in childbed, whom, it is still universally 
believed, they sometimes carry off into their secret recesses. To pre^ 
vent this abduction, women in childbed are closely watched, and are 
not left alone, even for a single moment, till the child is baptized, when 
the Shi'ichs are supposed to have no more power over them.f 

* Dr Graham has some curious observations on this practice. It is mentioned by 
Apuleiusin his Metamorphosis of the Golden Ass; and in the Greek Antliologia, 
this custom is recorded in a verse, which speaks of tlie withholding of this blessing by an 
evil-minded person :— 

<Ouhi Xiyu, |;y ffuffov iocv Trttoyi. 

Lib. II. § us 'hvru'hiit. 

*' Nor does he say, Jupiter save him, if he should sneeze." 

In the seventeenth book of Homer's Odyssey, Penelope, led by the account given by 
Eumseus of a stranger that had just arrived, to entertcun some hopes of the return 
of Ulysses, expresses her expectations, when her son Telemachus sneezes aloud. 
Auguring favourably from this omen, Penelope smiles, and gives orders to conduct 
the stranger to the palace. 

" She spoke. Telemachus then snecz'd aloud ; 
Constrained, his nostril echo'd through the crowd, 
The smiling queen the happy omen blest.'' 

From the existence of the practice of blessing au'ong the Siamese, it has been in. 
ferred, with some degree of probability, that it is of oriental origin, and was brought 
into Europe along with the druidical superstition. Father Tachard, in his Voyage tie 
Sia7n, abridged by Le Clerc in his Bihliotheque Universelle de VAnnec, 1687, thus re- 
lates the belief of the Siamese as to this practice. " The Siamese believe that, in th^ 
other world, there is an angel, whose name is Prayompaban, who has a book before 
him, in which the life of every individual upon earth is written; he ii incessantly 
employed in reading this book; and when lie arrives at the page which contains the 
history of any parficul;- ; person, that person infallibly sneezes. This, say the Siamese 
is the reason why we sneeze upon earih ; and that we are in use to wish a long and 
happv life to those who sneeze." 

f The Fairies of Shetland appear to be bolder than the Shi'ichs of the Highlands, 


The following tradition will illustrate this branch of the popular su- 
perstition respecting the Shi'ichs; A woman whose new-born child had 
been conveyed by them into their secret abodes, was also carried thither 
herself, to remain, however, only until she should suckle her infant. 
She one day, during this period, observed the Shi'ichs busily employed 
in mixing various ingredients in a boiling cauldron; and as soon as the 
composition was prepared, she remarked that they all carefully anointed 
their eyes with it, laying the remainder aside for future use. In a mo- 
ment when they were all absent, she also attempted to anoint her eyes 
with the precious drug, but had time to apply it to one eye only, when 
the Daoine Shi returned. But with that eye, she was henceforth enabled 
to see every thing as it really passed in their secret abodes; she saw 
every object, not as she had hitherto done, in deceptive splendour and 
elegance, but in its genuine colours and form. The gaudy ornaments 
of the apartment were reduced to the naked walls of- a gloomy cavern. 
Soon after, having discharged her office, she was dismissed to her own 
home. Still, however, she retained the faculty of seeing with her medi- 
cated eye, every thing that was done, any where in her presence, by 
the deceptive art of the order. One day, amidst a throng of people, 
she chanced to observe the Shi'ich, or man of peace, in whose possession 
she had left her child, though to every other eye invisible. Prompted 
by maternal affection, she inadvertently accosted him, and began to in- 
quire after the welfare of her child. The man of peace, astonished at 
thus being recognised by one of mortal race, sternly demanded how 
she had been enabled to discover him. Awed by the terrible frown of 
his countenance, she acknowledged what she had done. He spit into 
her eye, and extinguished it for ever. 

The Shi'ichs, it is still believed, have a great propensity for attending 
funerals and weddings, and other public entertainments, and even 
fairs. They have an object in this; for it is believed that, though invi- 
sible to mortal eyes, they are busily employed in carrying away the 
substantial articles and provisions which are exhibited, in place of which 
they substitute shadowy forms, having the appearance of the things 
so purloined. And so strong was the belief in this mythology, even till 
a recent period, that some persons are old enough to remember, that 
some individuals would not eat any thing presented on the occasions 
alluded to, because they believed it to be unsubstantial and hurtful. 

As the Shi'ichs are always supposed to be present on all occasions, 
though invisible, the Highlanders, whenever they allude to them, do so 

for they are believed to carry off young children even after baptism, taking care, 
however, to substitute a cabbage stock, or something else in lieu, which is made to 
assume the appearance of the abstracted child. The unhappy mother must take as 
much care of this phantom as she did of her child, and on no account destroy it, 
otherwise, it is believed, the fairies will not restore her child to her. *' This is not 
my bairn,'' said a mother to a neighbour who was condoling with her on the wasted ap- 
pearance of her infant, then sitting on her knee, — ** this is not my bairn — may the d— 1 
rest where my bairn now is ! " 

I. P 


n terms of respect. This is, however, done as seldom as possible, as 
they endeavour to avoid conversing about them as much as possible ; 
aod when the Shi'ichs are casually mentioned, the Highlanders adi 
some propitiatory expression of praise to avert their displeasure, which 
they greatly dread. This reserve and dread on the part of the High- 
landers, is said to arise from the peevish envy and jealousy which the 
Shi'ichs are believed to entertain towards the human race. Although 
believed to be always present, watching the doings of mortals, tlie 
Shi'ichs are supposed to be more particular in their attendance on Fri- 
day, on which day they are believed to possess very extensive influence. 
They are believed to be especially jealous of what may be said con- 
cerning them ; and if they are at all spoken of on that day, which is 
never done without great reluctance, the Highlanders uniformly style 
them the Daoine matha^ or good 7nen, 

According to the traditionary legends of the Higlilanders, the Slii*- 
iclis are believed to be of both sexes; and it is the general opinion 
among the Highlanders that men have sometimes cohabited with fe- 
males of the Shi'ich race, who are in consequence called Leannan Shi'. 
These mistresses are believed to be very kind to their mortal para- 
mours, by revealing to them the knowledge of many things both present 
and future, which were concealed from the rest of mankind. The 
knowledge of the medicinal virtues of many herbs, it is related, has 
been obtained in this way from the Leannan Shi'. The Daoine Shi' 
of the other sex are said, in their turn, to have sometimes held inter 
course with mistresses of mortal race. 

This popular superstition relating to the Daoine Shi', is supposed, 
with good reason, to have taken its rise in the times of the Druids, or 
rather to have been invented by them after the overthrow of their hier- 
archy, for the purpose of preserving the existence of their order, after 
they had retreated for safety to caves and the deep recesses of the fo- 
rest. This idea receives some corroboration from the Gaelic term, 
Druidheachd, which the Highlanders apply to the deceptive power by 
which the men of peace are believed to impose upon the senses of man- 
kind ; " founded, probably, on the opinion entertained of old, concern- 
ing the magical powers of the Druids. Deeply versed, according to 
Caesar's information, as the Druids were, in the higher departments of 
philosophy, and probably acquainted with electricity, and various 
branches of chemistry, they might find it easy to excite the belief of 
their supernatural powers, in the minds of the uninitiated vulgar." :j: 
The influence of this powerful order upon the popular belief was felt 
long after the supposed era of its extinction ; for it was not until Chris- 
tianity was introduced info the Highlands, that the total suppression of 
the Druids took place. Adomnan mentions in his life of St Columba, 

* Graham's Sketches, 


the mocidruidi, (or sons of Druids,) as existing in Scotland in the time 
of Columba; and he informs us, " that the saint was interrupted at the 
castle of the king (of the Picts), in the discharge of his religious offices, 
by certain magi;'' a term, by the bye, applied by Pliny to the order 
of the Druids. The following passage from an ancient Gaelic MS.* in the 
possession of the Highland Society of Scotland, supposed to be of the 
12th or 13th century, is conjectured to refer to the incident noticed by 
Adomnan. " After this, St Columba went upon a time to the king ol 
the Picts, namely, Bruidhi, sonofMilchu, and the gate of the castle 
was shut against him ; but the iron locks of the town opened instantly, 
through the prayers of Columb Cille. Then came the son of the king, 
to wit, Maelchu, and his Druid, to argue keenly against Columb Cille, 
in support of paganism." 

Martin relates, that the natives of South-Uist believed that a valley 
called Glenslyte, situated between two mountains on the east side of the 
island, was haunted by spirits, whom they called the Great Men, and 
that if any man or woman entered the valley without first making an en- 
tire resignation of themselves to the conduct of the great men, they would 
infallibly grow mad. The words by which they gave themselves up to 
the guidance of these men are comprehended in three sentences, where- 
in the glen is twice named. This author remonstrated with the inha- 
bitants upon this " piece of silly credulity," but they answered that 
there had been a late instance of a woman who went into the glen with- 
out resigning herself to the guidance of the great men, " and imme- 
diately afiter she became mad ; which confirmed them in their unreason- 
able fancy." He also observes, that the people who resided in the glen 
in summer, said, they sometimes heard a loud noise in the air like men 

The same writer mentions a universal custom amOng the inhabitants 
of the western islands, of pouring a cow's milk upon a little hill, or big 
stone, where a spirit they called Brownie, was believed to lodge, which 
spirit always appeared in the shape of a tall man, with very long brown 
hair. On inquiring " from several well-meaning women, who, until of 
late, had practised it," they told Martm that it had been transmitted to 
them by their ancestors, who believed it was attended with good for- 
tune, but the most credulous of the vulgar had then laid it aside. 

It was also customary among the " over-curious," in the western 
islands, to consult an invisible oracle, concerning the fate of families, 
battles, &c. This was done three different ways ; the first was by a 
company of men, one of whom being chosen by lot, was afterwards car- 
ried to a river, the boundary between two villages : four of the company 
seized on him, and having shut his eyes, they took him by the legs and 
arms, and then tossing him to and fro, struck his posteriors with force 

f MS. Nu. IV. noticed in the Appendix to tlie Report on the Poems of Ossianj 
p. 310. 
i Western Islands, 2d Ed. p. 86. 


against the bank. One of them then cried out, What is it you have 
got here? Another answered, A log of birch wood. The other cried 
again, Let his invisible friends appear from all quarters, and let them 
relieve him, by giving an answer to our present demands; and in a few 
minutes after, a number of little creatures came from the sea, who an- 
swered the question, and disappeared suddenly. The man was then set 
at liberty, and they all returned home to take their measures according 
to the prediction of their false prophets. This was always practised at 

The second way of consulting the oracle was by a party of men, who 
first retired to solitary places, remote from any house, and then singling 
out one of their number, wrapt him in a large cow's hide, which they 
folded about him, covering all but his head, in which posture they left 
him all night until his invisible friends relieved him by giving a proper 
answer to the question put ; which answer he received, as he fancied, 
from several persons he found about him all that time His companions 
returned to him at break of day when he communicated his news to 
them, which it is said " often proved fatal to those concerned in such 
unlawful inquiries."* 

The third way of consulting the oracle, and which consultation was 
to serve as a confirmation of the second, was this: The same company 
who put the man into the hide, took a live cat and put him on a spit. 
One of the company was employed to turn the spit, and when in the act 
of turning, one of his companions would ask him, what are you doing? 
He answered, I roast this cat, until his friends answer the question, the 
same as that proposed to the man inclosed in the hid^. Afterwards a 
very large cat was said to come, attended by a number of lesser cats, 
desiring to relieve the cat turned upon the spit, and answered the ques- 
tion. And if the answer turned out to be the same that was ffiven to 
the man in the hide, then it was taken as a confirmation of the other, 
which in this case was believed infallible, t 

A singular practice called Deis-iidl existed in the Western Islands, so 
called from a man going round carrying fire in his right hand, which in 
the Gaelic is called Deas. In the islr^nd of Lewis this fiery circuit was 
made about the houses, corn, cattle, «tc. of each particular family, to 
protect them from the power of evil spirits. The fire was also carried 
round about women before they were churched after child-bearins", and 
about children till they were baptized. This ceremony was performed 
in the morning and at night, and was practised by some of the old mid- 
wives in Martin's time. Some of them told him that ' the fire-round 
was an effectual means of preserving both the mother and the infant 
from the power of evil spirits, who are ready at such times to do mis- 
chief, and sometimes carry away the infant; and when they get them 
once in their possession, return them poor meagre skeletons; and these 

• Martin, 2d ed. p. 112. f Ibid. 


iniants are aid to hare voracioiis appetites, eonstantiy craving for meat. 
Id tixs ease it was usoai with tliose who bdiered tiiat their chfldKm 
were dnis taken away;, to dag a giare m the fidds upoD qoaiter-daT, and 
there to laj the Cairj Aeleton tiD next moming ; at which time tho 
parents wait to the place, where they doidMed not to &k1 their owii 
child "Mrtipad of this Aefcton. Smne of the power swt of people in 
these islands IcMig retained a cnstom of perfcnnii^ rounds son-wise, 
about the persons (^ their bene&ctors three times, wfa^i ther blessed them. 
and wished good saccess to all their ent e r pri s e s. Some were Teiy earefiiL 
when ther set oat to aea, that the boat shoold be first rowed about aon- 
wiae; and ifthis was ne^ected, ther were afraid their Toyage woold prove 
Bnfortnnate.* These and many other customs which were pec^iliar to the 
inhabitaDts of the Western Tslands are, we think, of ScandinaTian oc^in, 
and were probably introdaoed bj the Danish Vikingr. The {»actiee of 
tmming the boat son-wise is still observed bj the fislKimen of the 
Shetland idands, where none of the Cdtie usages were ever introdaoed. 

A pfcivailing superstition also existed in the Western T^^^p^j and 
among the inhabitants of the ndghboorin? coast, that women, by a cer- 
tain charm or bj some secret influence, cookl withdraw and appropriate 
to thor own use the increase of their neighbour's eow's milk. It wa« 
believed, however, that the milk so charmed did not produce the <mii- 
oaiy quantity of butter usually diumed from other milk, and that the 
curds made of such milk were so tough that they could not be made so 
film as odier dieese, and that it was ako mnch lighter in weight. It 
was also believed that the butter produced frmn the charmed milk could 
be discovt^ed from that yielded from the channer s own milk, by a 
dtfSerence in the coloiir, the former being of a pakr hne than the latter. 
The wcsnan in whose possesion butter so distinguished was found, was 
considered to be guilty. To bring back the increase of milk, it was 
osoal to take a liitle of the rennet from all the suspected persons, and 
pot it into an esg shell foil of mflk, and when the rennet takoi from the 
charmer was minted with it, it was said presently to curdle, but not 
befi>re. Some women put the root of grounds^ among th^ cream as 
an amulet against such charms. 

In retaliation Icmt washing dishes^ whoein milk was kept, in streams or 
rivnieCs in which trouts were, it was bdieved that they prevented or took 
away an increase of milk, and the damage thus occasimied could only 
be repaired by taking a live trout and pouring milk into its mouth. If 
the milk curdled immediatdy, this was a sure sign of its being taken 
away by trouts ; if not, the inhabitants asoibed the evil to some other 
cause. S<Htte women, it was affirmed, had the art to take away the milk 
of nurses. 

A similar superstition existed at to malt, the virtnes oi which were 
•aid to be sometimes imperceptibly filched, by some charm, befiire bein^^ 
osed, so that the drink made of tins malt had nether strength nor good 
taste, while, on the ccntzaiy, the supposed chaimer bad very good ale aO 


the time. The following curious story is told by Martin in relation 
to this subject. " A gentleman of my acquaintance, for the space of 
a year, could not have a drop of good ale in his house ; and having 
complained of it to all that conversed with him, he was at last advised 
to get some yeast from every alehouse in the parish ; and having got a 
little from one particular man, he put it among his wort, which became 
as good ale as could be drank, and so defeated the charm. After which, 
the gentleman on whose land this man lived, banished him thirty-six 
miles from thence."* 

A singular mode of divination was sometimes practised by the High- 
landers with bones. Having picked the flesh clean off a shoulder-blade 
of mutton, which was supposed to lose its virtue if touched by iron, thoy 
turned towards the east, and with looks steadily fixed on the transparent 
bone they pretended to foretell deaths, burials, &c. 

The phases or changes of the moon were closely observed, and it was 
only at particular periods of her revolution that they would cut turf or 
fuel, fell wood, or cut thatch for houses, or go upon any important ex- 
pedition. They expected better crops of grain by sowing their seed in 
the moon's increase. " The moon," as Dr Johnson observes, " has great 
influence in vulgar philosophy," and in his memory it was a precept 
annually given in one of the English almanacs, " To kill hogs when 
the moon was increasing, and the bacon would prove the better in 

The aid of superstition was sometimes resorted to for curing diseases. 
For hectic and consumptive complaints, the Highlanders used to pare 
the nails of the fingers and toes of the patient, — put these parings into 
a bag made from a piece of his clothes, — and after waving their hand 
with the bag thrice round his head, and crying, Deis-iuil, they buried it 
in some unknown place. Pliny, in his natural history, states this practice 
to have existed among the Magi or Druids of his time. 

To remove any contagious disease from cattle, they used to extinguish 
the fires in the surrounding villages, after which they forced fire with a 
wheel, or by rubbing one piece of dry wood upon another, with whicli 
they burned juniper in the stalls of the cattle that the smoke might purify 
the air about them. When this was performed, the fires in the houses 
were rekindled from the forced fire. Shaw relates in his history of 
Moray, that he personally witnessed both the last mentioned practices. 

Akin to some of the superstitions we h.ive noticed, but differing from 
them in many essential respects, is the belief — for superstition it cannot 
well be called — in the Second Sight, by which, as Dr Johnson observes, 
** seems to be meant a mode of seeing, superadded to that which nature 
generally bestows,"-]- and consists of " an impression made either by the 
mind upon the eye, or by the eye upon the mind, by which things dis- 
tant or future ar^; perceived, and seen as if they were present."^ This 

Western Islands, p. 122. t Joumey, p. 166. \ Ibid. 


" deceptive faculty" is called Taibhse in the Gaelic, which signifies a 
spectre, or a vision, and is neither voluntary nor constant, but consists 
" in seeing an otherwise invisible object, without any previous means used 
by the person that sees it for that end ; the vision makes such a lively 
impression upon the seers, that they neither see nor think of any thing 
else, except the vision, as long as it continues : and then they appear 
pensive or jovial, according to the object which was represented to 

It has been observed by lookers-on, that those persons who saw, or 
were supposed to see, a vision, always kept their eye-lids erect, and that 
they continued to stare until the object vanished. Martin affirms that 
he and other persons that were with them, observed tliis more than once 
and he mentions an instance of a man in Skye, the inner part of whose 
eye-lids was turned so far upwards during a vision, that after tlie object 
disappeared he found it necessary to draw them down with his fingers, and 
would sometimes employ others to draw them down, which he indeed, 
Martin says, " found from experience to be the easier way." 

The visions are said to have taken place either in the morning, at 
noon, in the evening, or at night. If an object was seen early in the 
morning, its accomplishment would take place in a few hours thereafter. 
If at noon, that very day. If in the evening, perhaps that night; if 
after the candles were lighted, the accomplishment would take place by 
weeks, months, and sometimes years, according to the time of night the 
vision was seen. 

As the appearances which are said to have been -observed in visions 
and their prognostics are not generally known, and may prove curious 
to the general reader, a few of them shall be here stated, as noted by 

When a shroud was perceived about one, it was a sure prognostic of 
death. The time was judged according to the height of it about the 
person. If not seen above the middle, death was not to be expected for 
the space of a year, and perhaps some months longer; and as it was fre- 
quently seen to ascend higher towards the head, death was concluded to 
be at hand within a few days, if not hours. 

If a woman was seen standing at a man's left hand, it was a presage 
that she would be his wife, whether they were married to others, or un- 
married at the time of the apparition. 

If two or three women were seen at once standing near a man's left 
hand, she that was next to him would undoubtedly be his wife first, and 
so on, whether all three, or the man, were single or married at the time 
of the vision or not. 

It was usual for the Seers to see any man that was shortly to arrive 
at the house. If unknown to the Seer he would give such a description 
of the person he saw as to make him to be at once recognised upon his 

♦ Mariiiu p. 30a 


arrival. On the other hand, if the Seer knew the person he saw in the 
vision, he would tell his name, and know by the expression of his counte>' 
nance whether he came in a good or bad humour. 

The Seers often saw houses, gardens, and trees, in places where there 
were none, but in the course of time these places became covered with 

To see a spark of fire fall upon one's arm or breast, was a forerunner 
of a dead child to be seen in the arms of those persons. To see a seat 
empty when one was sitting on it, was a presage of that person's imme- 
diate death. 

There are now few persons, if any, who pretend to this faculty, and the 
belief in it is almost generally exploded. Yet it cannot be denied that 
apparent proofs of its existence have been adduced which have staggered 
minds not prone to superstition. When the connexion between cause 
and effect can be recognised, things which would otherwise have appeared 
wonderful and almost incredible, are viewed as ordinary occuiTences. 
The impossibility of accounting for such an extraordinary phenomena! 
as the alleged faculty, on philosophical principles, or from the laws of na- 
ture, must ever leave the matter suspended between rational doubt and 
confirmed scepticism. " Strong reasons for incredulity," says Dr Johnson, 
" will readily occur. This faculty of seeing things out of sight is local, and 
commonly useless. It is a breach of the common order of things, without 
any visible reason or perceptible benefit. It is ascribed only to a people 
very little enlightened ; and among them, for the most part, to the mean 
and ignorant. To the confidence of these objections it may be replied, 
that by presuming to determine what is fit, and what is beneficial, they 
presuppose more knowledge of the universal system than man has at- 
tained; and therefore depend upon principles too complicated and ex- 
tensive for our comprehension; and that there can be no security in the 
consequence, when the premises are not understood: that the Second 
Sight is only wonderful because it is rare, for, considered in itself, it in- 
volves no more difficulty than dreams, or perhaps than the regular ex- 
ercises of the cogitative faculty ; that a general opinion of communica- 
tive impulses, or visionary representations, has prevailed in all ages and 
all nations; that particular instances have been given, with such evi- 
dence as neither Bacon, nor Bayle, has been able to resist; that sudden 
impressions, which the event has verified, have been felt by more than 
own or publish them; that the Second Sight of the Hebrides implies 
only the local frequency of a power which is no where totally unknown ; 
and that where we are unable to decide by antecedent reason, we must 
be content to yield to the force of testimony."* 

Among the various modes of social intercourse which gladdened the 
minds and dissipated the worldly cares of the Highlanders, weddings 
bore a distinguisiied part, and they were longed for with a peculiar 

• Juumey to the Western Islands, p. 167, 16^ 


oamestness. Young and old, from the boy and girl of the age of ten 
to the hoarj' headed sire and aged matron, attended them. The marriage 
invitations were given by the bride and bridegroom, in person, for 
some weeks previous, and included the respective friends of the betroth- 
ed parties living at the distance of many miles. 

When the bride and bridegroom had completed their rounds, t!ie 
custom was for the matrons of the invited families to return the visit 
within a few days, carrying along with them large presents of hams, 
beef, cheese, butter, malt, spirits, and such other articles as they inclined 
or tliought necessary for the approaching feast. To such an extent was 
this practice carried in some instances in the quantity presented, that, 
along with what the guests paid (as they commonly did) for their enter- 
tainment at the marriage, and the gifts presented on the day after the 
marriage, the young couple obtained a pretty fair competence, which 
warded off the shafts of poverty, and even made them comfortable in 

The joyous wedding-morning was ushered in by the notes of the 
bagpipe. A party of pipers, followed by the bridegroom and a party 
of his friends, commenced at an early hour a round of morning calls to 
remind the guests of their engagements. These hastened to join the 
party, and before the circuit, which sometimes occupied several hours, 
had ended, some hundreds, perhaps, had joined the wedding standard 
before they reached the bridegroom's house. The bride made a similar 
round among her friends. Separate dinners were provided; the bride- 
groom giving a dinner to his friends, and the bride to hers. The 
marriage ceremony was seldom performed till after dinner. The 
clergyman, sometimes, attended, but the parties preferred waiting on 
him, as the appearance of a large procession to his house gave additional 
importance and eclat to the ceremony of the day, which was further 
heightened by a constant firing by the young men, who supplied them- 
selves with guns and pistols, and which firing was responded to by 
every hamlet as the party passed along; "so that, with streamers flying, 
pipers playing, the constant firing from all sides, and the shouts of the 
young men, the whole had the appearance of a military army passing, 
with all the noise of warfare, through a hostile country." 

On the wedding-day, the bride and bridegroom avoided each other till 
they met before the clergyman. Many ceremonies were performed 
during the celebration of the marriage rites. These ceremonies were of 
an amusing and innocent description, and added much to the cheerful- 
ness and happmess of the young people. One of these ceremonies 
consisted in untying all the bindings and strings about the person of the 
bridegroom, to denote, that nothing was to be bound on the marriage 
day but the one indissoluble knot which death only can dissolve. The 
bride was exempted from this operation from a delicacy of feeling 
towards her sex, and from a supposition that she was so pure that 
infidelity on her part could not be contemplated. 

I. Q 


To discontinue practices in themselves innocent, and which con- 
tribute to the social happiness of mankind, must ever be regi*etted, and 
it is not therefore to be wondered at, that a generous and open-hearted 
Highlander, like General Stewart, should have expressed his regret at 
the partial disuse of these ceremonies, or that he should have preferred 
a Highland wedding, where he had himself "been so happy, and seen 
so many blithe countenances, and eyes sparkling with delight, to such 
weddings as that of the Laird of Drum, ancestor of the Lord Sommer- 
ville, when he married a daughter of Sir James Bannatyne of Core- 

The festivities of the wedding-day were generally prolonged to a late 
hour, and during the whole day the fiddlers and pipers never ceased 
except at short intervals, to make sweet music. The fiddlers performed 
in the house, the pipers in the field;-]- so that the company alternately 
enjoyed the pleasure of dancing within and without the house, as 
inclined, provided the weather permitted. 

No people were more attached to the fulfilment of all the domestic duties, 
and the sacred obligation of the marriage vow, than the Highlanders. A 
violation thereof was of course of unfrequent occurrence, and among the 
common people a separation was almost unknown. Rarely, indeed, did 
a husband attempt to get rid of his wife, however disagreeable she might 
be. He would have considered his children dishonoured, if he had 
driven their mother from the protection of his roof. The punishment 
inflicted by the ecclesiastical authority for an infringement of the 
marriage vow was, that "the guilty person, whether male or female, 
was made to stand in a barrel of cold water at the church door, after 

♦ " On that occasion, sanctified by the puritanical cant of the times, tliere was 'one 
marquis, three earls, two lords, sixteen barons, and eight ministers present at the solemnity, 
but not one musician ; they liked yet better the bleatiiig of the calves of Dan and Bethel 
— the ministers' long-winded, and sometimes nonsensical graces, little to purpose, than 
nil musical instruments of the sanctuaries, at so solemn an occasion, which, if it be 
lawful at all to have them, certainly it ought to be upon a wedding-day, for divertisement 
lo the guests, that innocent recreation of music and dancing being much more warrantable 
and far better exercise than drinking and smoking tobacco, wherein the holy brethren of 
the Presbyterian (persuasion) for the most pan employed themselves, witliout any formal 
health, or remembrance of their friends, a nod with the head, or a sign with the turning 
up of the white of the eye, served for the ceremony." Stewart's Sketches— Memoirs of 
the Sommcrville Family. 

I "Playing the bagpipes within doors," says General Stewart, "is a Lowland and 
English custom. In the Highlands the piper is always in the open air; and when 
people wish to dance to his music, it is on the green, if the weather permits; nothing but 
necessity makes them attempt a pipe-dance in the house. The bagpipe was a field instru- 
ment intended to call the clans to arms, and animate them in baUie, and was no more 
intended for a house than a round of six pouJiders. A broadside from a first-rate, or a 
round from a battery, has a sublime and impressive eflect at a proper distance. In the 
same manner, the sound of bagpipes, softened by distance, had an indescribable effect on 
the mind and actions of the Highlanders. But as few would choose to be under the 
muzzle of the guns of a battery, so 1 have seldom seen a Highlander, whose ears were 
not grati d when close to pipes, however much his breasi might be warmed, and his feelings 
roHstd, by the sounds to which he had been accustomed in his youth, when proceeding 
from the proper distance." — Sketches, App. xxiii. 



which, the delinquent, clad in a wet canvass shirt, was made to stand 
before the congregation, and at close of service the minister explained 
the nature of the offence."* Illicit intercourse before marriage between 
the sexes was also of rare occurrence, and met with condign punishment 
in the public infamy which attended such breaches against chastity. 

This was the more remarkable, as early marriages were discouraged 
and the younger sons were not allowed to marry until they obtained 
sufficient means to keep a house and to rent a small farm, or were other- 
wise enabled to support a family. 

The attachment of the Highlanders to their offspring and the vene- 
ration and filial piety which a reciprocal feeling produced on the part 
of their children, were leading-characteristics in the Highland character, 
and much as these mountaineers have degenerated in some of the other 
virtues, these affections still remain almost unimpaired. Children seldom 
desert their parents in their old age, and when forced to earn a subsistence 
from home, they always consider themselves bound to share with their 
parents whatever they can save from their wages. But the parents are 
never left alone, as one of the family, by turns, remains at home for the 
purpose of taking care of them in terms of an arrangement. " The sense 
of duty is not extinguished by absence from the mountains. It accom- 
panies the Highland soldier amid the dissipaHons of a mode of life, to 
which he has not been accustomed. It prompts him to save a portion 
of his pay, to enable him to assist his parents, and also to work when 
he has an opportunity, that he may increase their allowance, at once 
preserving himself from idle habits, and contributing to the comfort and 
happiness of those who gave him birth. I have been a frequent witness 
of these offerings of filial bounty, and the channel through which they 
were communicated, and I have generally found that a threat of inform- 
ing their parents of misconduct, has operated as a sufficient check on 
young soldiers, who always received the intimation with a sort of horror. 
They knew that the report would not only grieve their relations, but 
act as a sentence of banishment against themselves, as they could not 
return home with a bad or blemished character. Generals M'Kenzie, 
Fraser, and M'Kenzie of Suddie, who successively commanded the 
78th Highlanders, seldom had occasion to resort to any other punish- 
ment than threats of this kind, for several years afler the embodying of 
that regiment.'f 

Nor were the Highlanders less alive to the principles of honesty and 
fair dealing, in their transactions with one another. Disgrace was the 
usual consequence of insolvency, which was considered ex facie criminal. 
Bankrupts were not only compelled to wear a dyvours habit, but to un- 
dergo a singular punishment. They " were forced to surrender their 
all, and were clad in a party-coloured clouted garment, with the hose 
of different sets, and had their hips dashed against a stone, in presence 

• Dr M'Queen's Dissertation. f Stewart's Sketches, I. 86. 


o( the people, by four men, each taking hold of an arm or a Irg. T>»is 
punishment was called Toncruaidh."* 

Such was the confidence in their honour and integrity, that in the 
ordinary transactions of tlie people, a mere verbal obligation without the 
intervention of any writing, was lield quite surficient, although contract- 
ed in the most private manner, f and there were few instances where the 
obligation was either unfulfilled or denied. Their mode of concluding 
or confirming their money agreements or other transactions, was by 
the contracting parties going out into the open air, and with eyes erect, 
taking Heaven to witness their engagements, after which, each party put 
a mark on some remarkable stone or other natural object, which their 
ancestors had been accustomed to notice. 

Accustomed, as the Highlanders were, to interminable feuds arising 
«>ut of the pretensions of ri\-al clans, the native courage which they had 
inherited from their Celtic progenitors was presened unimpaired. In- 
stances of cowardice were, therefore, of rare occurrence, and whoever 
exhibited symptoms of fear before a (oe^ was considered infamous and 
put to the ban of his party. The following anecdote, as related by Mrs 
Grant, shows, strongly, the detestation wliich the Highlanders entertain 
towards those who had disgraced themselves and their clan by an act ot 
poltronerj* : " Tliere was a clan, / 7nust not say irhat clan it isy who 
had been for ages governed by a series of chiefs, singularly estimable, 
and highly beloved, and who, in one instance, provoked their leader to 
the extreme of indignation. I should observe, that tLe transgression 
was pai'tial, the culprits being the inhabitants of one single parish. 
These, in a hasty skinnish with a neighbouring clan, thinking discre- 
tion the best part of valour, sought safetj'^ in retreat. A cruel chief 
would have inflicted tlie worst of punishments — banishment frx)m the 
bounds of his clan, — wliich. indeed, fell little short of the curse of 

• Stewart's Sietclies. 
+ Two remarkable instances of tlie regaj-d p;tid by the Highlanders: to tlieir engace- 
ments, are given by General SlewarL ^' A gentleman of the name of Stewart, agreed to 
lend a considerable sum of money to a neighbour. When they had met, and the money 
was already counted down upon tlie table, the borrower olfered a rect-ipt As soon as 
Ihe lender (grandfather of tlie late Mr Stewart of Bailachulish) he^rd this, he immeduue- 
ly collected the money, sa\ing, that a man who could not trust his own word, without a 
In.iid, should not be trusted by him. and should have none of his money, which he put 
tip in his purse and ntunied home." An inliabiUmt of tlie same district kept a retail 
shop for nearly fifty years, aiwl supplied the whole district, then full of people, with all 
their little mercbandise. He neither gave nor askeJ any receipts. At Martinmas of 
rach year he collected the amount of his sales which were ahvajs paid to a day. In one 
of his annual rounds, a customer happened to be from home ; consequently, be returned 
unpaid, but before he was out of bed the following moniing, he was c^Tikened by acaii 
fn.)m his customer, who came to pay his acci>unt. Afitr the business ^vas settled, his 
neighbour said. " You are now paid ; I would not for my best c<.>w that I should sleep 
while you wanted your money afer your term of j^yment, and that I should be the L-ksi 
in the country in your debt," Sucb examples of stem hon^ty, are now, alas! of nu* 
occurrence. Many of .oe virtues which adonud the Highland character hare disappeared 
in the Tortex of mi<dem improvement, by which the country has been complete!} re\o- 


Kebania. This good laird, however, set bounds to his wrath, yet made 
tJieir punishment severe and exemplan'. He appeared himself with all 
the population of the three adjacent parishes, at the paiish church o< 
the offenders, where they were all by order convened. After divine 
service, they were marched three times round the church, in presence 
of their offended leader and his assembled clan. Each individual, on 
coming out of the church door, was obliged to draw out his tongue with 
his fingers, and then cry audibly, * Shud bleider heich,' (i. e.) ' This 
is the poltroon,' and to repeat it at every corner of the church. After 
this procession of ignominy, no other punishment was iniiicted, except 
that of being left to guard the district when the rest were called out to 
battle. ... It is credibly asserted, that no enemy has seen the back 
of any of that name (Grant) ever since. And it is certain, that, to this 
day, it is not safe for any person of another name to mention the cir- 
cumstance in presence of one of the affronted clan."* 

The Highlanders, like the inhabitants of other romantic and moun- 
tainous regions, always retain an enthusiastic attachment to their coun- 
try-, which neither distance of place nor length of time can efface. This 
strong feeling has, we think, been attributed erroneously to the power- 
ful and lasting effect which the external objects of nature, seen in their 
wildest and most fantastic forms and features, are calculated to impre^ 
apon the imagination. 

No doubt the remembrance of these objects might contribute to en- 
dear the scenes of youth to the patriotic Highlander when far removed 
from his native glens ; but it was the recollection of home, — sweet 
home ! — of the domestic circle, and of the many pleasing associations 
which arise from the contemplation of the days of other years, when 
mirth and innocence held mutual dalliance, that cliiefly impelled him to 
sigh for the land of his fathers. Mankind have naturally an affection 
for the country of their birth, and this affection is felt more or less ac 
cording to the de^ee of social or commercial intercourse which exists 
among nations. Confined, like the Swiss, for many ages within their 
natural boundaries, and having little or no intercourse with the rest of 
the world, the Highlanders formed those strong local attachments tor 
which they were long remarkably distinguished ; but which are now 
being gradually obliterated by the mighty changes rapidly taking place 
in the state of society. 

Firmly attached as they were to their countrj-, the Highlanders had 
also a singular predilection for the place of their birth. An amusing 
instance of this local attachment is mentioned by General Stewart. A 
tenant of his father's, at the foot of the mountain Shichallain, ha\-ing 
removed and followed his son to a farm which the latter had taken at 
gome distiince lower down the country, the old man was missing for a 
considerable time one morning, and on being asked on his return where 

• Oii tlie Superstitious of the Highlandtr^i 



l.e iiad been, replied, " As I was sitting by the side of the ri\-er, a 
thought came across me, that, perhaps, some of the waters from Shichal- 
lain, and the sweet fountains that watered the farm of my forefathers, 
might now be passing by me, and that if I bathed they might touch my 
skin. I immediately stripped, and, from the pleasure I felt in being 
surrounded by the pure waters of Leidna-breilag (the name of the farm) 
I could not tear myself away sooner." But this fondness of the High- 
lander was not confined to the desire of living upon the beloved spot — it 
extended even to the grave. The idea of dying at a distance from home 
and among strangers could not be endured, and the aged Highlander, when 
absent from his native place, felt discomposed lest death should overtake 
him before his return. To be consigned to the grave among strangers, 
without the attendance and sympathy of friends, and at a distance from 
their family, was considered a heavy calamity ; and even to this day, 
people make the greatest exertions to carry home the bodies of such re- 
lations as happen to die far from the ground hallowed by the ashes of 
their forefathers.* This trait was exemplified in the case of a woman 
aged ninety-one, who a few years ago went to Perth from her house in 
Strathbrane in perfect health, and in the possession of all her faculties. 
A few days after her arrival in Perth, where she had gone to visit a 
daughter, she had a slight attack of fever. One evening a considerable 
quantity of snow had fallen, and she expressed great anxiety, particularly 
when told that a heavier fall was expected. Next morning her bed was 
found empty, and no trace of her could be discovered, till the second 
day, when she sent word that she had slipt out of the house at midnight, 
set off on foot through the snow, and never stopped till she reached 
home, a distance of twenty miles. When questioned some time afterwards 
why she went away so abruptly, she answered, " If my sickness had in- 
creased, and if I had died, they could not have sent my remains home 
through the deep snows. If I had told my daughter, perhaps she would 
have locked the door upon me, and God forbid that my bones should be 
at such a distance from home, and be buried among Gall-na-machair, 
The strangers of the plain."f 

Among the causes which contributed to sustain the warlike charactei 
of the Highlanders, the exertions of the bards in stimulating them to 
deeds of valour in the field of battle, must not be overlooked. We have 
already noticed some of the duties of their office (Chapter II.) which 
need not be here repeated ; but we omitted to mention that one of the 
most important of these consisted in attending the clans to the field, and 
exhorting them before battle to emulate the glories of their ancestors, 
and to die if necessary in defence of their country. The appeals of the 
bards, which were delivered and enforced with great vehemence and 
earnestness, never failed to arouse the feelings; and when amid the di& 
of battle the voices of the bards could no longer be heard, the pipers 

• Stewart's Sketches, i. 79, SO. \ Ibid. 


sncceedc'd them, and cheered on their respective parties with their war- 
like and inspiring strains. After the termination of the battle, the bard 
celebrated the praises of the brave warriors who had fallen in battle, and 
related the heroic actions of the survivors to excite them to similar ex- 
ertions on future occasions. To impress still more deeply upon the 
minds of the survivors the honour and heroism of their fallen friends, the 
piper was employed to perform plaintive dirges for the slain. 

From the associations raised in the mind by the great respect thus 
paid to the dead, and the honours which awaited the survivors who dis- 
tinguished themselves in the field of battle, by their actions being cele- 
brated by the bards, and transmitted to posterity, originated that mag- 
nanimous contempt of death for which the Highlanders are noted. While 
among some people the idea of death is avoided with studious alarm, the 
Highlander will speak of it with an easy and unconcerned familiarity, as 
an event of ordinary occurrence, but in a way " equally remote from 
dastardly affectation, or fool-hardy presumption, and proportioned solely 
to the inevitable certainty of the event itself."* 

To be interred decently, and in a becoming manner, is a material con- 
sideration in ihe mind of a Highlander, and care is generally taken, even 
by the poorest, long before the approach of death, to provide sufficient ar- 
ticles to insure a respectable interment. To wish one another an honour- 
able death, cricchonarac/i, is considered friendly by the Highlanders, and 
even children will sometimes express the same sentiment towards their pa- 
rents. *' A man well known to the writer of these pages was remarkable 
for his filial affection, even among the sons and daughters of the moun- 
tains, so distinguished for that branch of piety. His mother being a 
widow, and having a numerous family, who had married very early, he 
continued to live single, that he might the more sedulously attend to 
her comfort, and watch over her declining years with the tenderest care. 
On her birth-day, he always collected his brothers and sisters, and all 
their families, to a sort of kindly feast, and, in conclusion, gave a toast, 
not easily translated from the emphatic language, without circumlocu- 
tion, — An easy and decorous departure to my mother, comes nearest to 
it. This toast, which would shake the nerves of fashionable delicacy, 
was received with great applause, ihe old woman remarking, tliat God 
had been always good to her, and she hoped she would die as decently 
as she had lived, for it is thought of the utmost consequence to die 
decently. The ritual of decorous departure, and of behaviour to be 
observed by the friends of the dying on that solemn occasion, being 
fully established, nothing is more common than to take a solemn leave 
of old people, as if they were going on a journey, and pretty much in 
the same terms. People frequently send conditional messages to the 
departed. If you are pennitted^ tell my dear brother y that I have mere- 
ly endured the world since he left it, and that I have been very kind 

• Stewart's Sketches. 


to every creature lie used to cJierish^ for his sake. I have, indeed, heard 
a person of a very enlightened mind, seriously give a message to ar. 
aged person, to deliver to a child he had lost not long before, which she 
as seriously promised to deliver, with the wonted salvo, if she was per- 

In no country was " the savage virtue of hospitality" carried to a 
greater extent than in the Highlands, and never did stranger receive a 
heartier welcome than was given to the guest who entered a Highland 
mansion or cottage. This hospitality was sometimes carried rather too 
far, particularly in the island of Barra, where, according to Martin, the 
custom was, that, when strangers from the northern islands went there, 
" the natives, immediately after their landing, obliged them to eat, even 
though they should have liberally eat and drank but an hour before their 
landing there." This meat they called Bieyta'v, i. e. Ocean meat. Sir 
Robert Gordon informs us that it was a custom among the western 
islanders, that when one was invited to another's house, they never se- 
parated till the whole provision was finished; and that, when it was 
done, they went to the next house, and so on from one house to an 
other until they made a complete round, from neighbour to neighbour 
always carrying the head of the family in which they had been last cn- 
t^^rtJiined to the next house along with them.f 

« Mrs Grant's Superstitions of the Highlanders, 
t Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland, p. 18S. 



Consequences of the removal of the seat of Govjemment — Institution of Chiefs — Theh 
great power — Sjstem of Clanship — Military ranks of the Clans— Fiery-cross — War 
cry— Omens— Hunting provision — Numerical strength of the Clans — Remarkable 
succession of the Chiefs — Consequences of Clanship — Disputes of the Clans — Treaties 
— Spirit of hostility and revenge — Modes of warfare— Creachs — Cearnachs — Black 
mail— Absence of theft and highway robbery — Voluntary tribunals— Compensation 
for injuries — Mild but arbitrary sway of the Chiefs — Legal authority conferred on the 
great Barons and Chiefs — its extent— attendance at their courts — Donations to Chiefs 
and younger sons and daughters on marriage — Attachment and fidelity of the Clans to 
their Ciiiefs — Instances thereof. 

The removal of the court by Malcolm Ceanmore to the Lowlands was 
an event which was followed by results very disastrous to the future 
prosperity of the Highlands. The inhabitants soon sunk into a state ol 
poverty, and, as by the transference of the seat of government the ad- 
ministration of the laws became either inoperative or was feebly enforced, 
the people gave themselves up to violence and turbulence, and revenged 
in person those injuries which the laws could no longer redress. Re- 
leased from the salutary control of monarchical government, the High- 
landers soon saw the necessity of substituting some other system in its 
place, to protect themselves against the aggressions to which they were 
exposed. From this state of things originated the institution of Chiefs, 
who were selected by the different little communities into which the po- 
pulation of the Highlands was naturally divided, on account of their su- 
perior property, courage, or talent. The powers of the chiefs were very 
great. They acted, as judges or arbiters, in the quarrels of their clans- 
men and followers, and as they were backed by resolute supporters of 
their rights, their property, and their power, they established within 
their own territories a jurisdiction almost independent of the kingly au- 

From this division of the people into clans and tribes under separate 
chiefs, arose many of those institutions, feelings, and usages which charac- 
terized the Highlanders. " The nature of the country, and the motives 
which induced the Celts to make it their refuge, almost necessarily pre- 
scribed the form of their institutions. Unequal to contend with the 
overwhelming numbers, who drove tliem from the plains, and, anxious 
to preserve their independence, and their blood uncontaminated by a 
mixture with strangers, they defended themselves in those strongholds 
which are, in every country, the sanctuaries of national liberty, and the 
refuge of those who resist the oppressions and ^he dominion of a more 

I. H 


powerful neighbour. Thus, in the absence of their monarchs, and dp- 
fended by their barrier of rocks, they did not always submit to the au- 
thority of a distant govern menu, which could neither enforce obedience, 
nor afford protection. The division of the country into so many straths, 
valleys, and islands, separated from one another by mountains, or arms 
of the sea, gave rise, as a matter of necessity, to various little societies; 
and individuals of superior property, courage, or talent, under whose 
banners they had fought, or under whose protection they had settled, 
naturally became their chiefs. Their secluded situation rendered general 
intercourse di^cult, while the impregnable ramparts with which they 
were surrounded made defence easy."* 

The various little societies into which the Highland population was, 
by the nature of the country, divided, having no desire to change their 
residence or to keep up a communication with one another, and having 
all their wants, which were few, supplied within themselves, became in- 
dividually isolated. Every district became an independent state, and 
thus the Highland population, though possessing a community of cus- 
toms and the same characteristics, was divided or broken into separate 
masses, and placed under different jurisdictions. A patriarchal f system 
of government, " a sort of hereditary monarchy founded on custom, and 
allowed by general consent, rather than regulated by laws," was thus 
established over each community or clan in the persons of the chiefs, 
which continued in full vigour till about the year seventeen hundred and 

As a consequence of the separation which was preserved by the dif- 
ferent clans, matrimonial alliances were rarely made with strangers, and 
hence the members of the clan were generally related to one another by 
the ties of consanguinity or affinity. While this double connexion 
tended to preserve harmony and good will among the members of the 
same clan, it also tended, on the other hand, to excite a bitter spirit of 
animosity between rival clans, whenever an affront or injury was offered 
by one clan to another or by individuals of different clans. 

Although the chief had great power with his clan in the different re- 
lations of landlord, leader, and judge, his authority was far from absolute, 
as he was obliged to consult the leadmg men of the clan in matters of 
importance — in things regarding the clan or particular families, in re- 
moving differences, punishing or redressing injuries, preventing law- 
suits, supporting declining families, and declaring war against, or adjusting 
terms of peace with other clans. 

As the system of clanship was calculated to cherish a warlike spirit, 

• Stewart's SkeWies, ». 21, 22. 

t Ti\e power of the chiefs over their clans was, from politi«il motives, often supported 
by the povernment, to counteract the preat influence of the feudal system which enabled 
liie nobles frequently to set the authority of the state at defiance. Although the duke of 
(iordon, was the fei'dal superior of the lands held by the Cainerons, iNI'Phersons, 
M'Donells of Keppoch am! others, he had no iiLflience over those dans who always obeyed 
the orders of Locheil, Clunie, KepiM.cii. vSic. 


the young chiefs and heads of families were regarded or despised ac- 
cording to their military or peaceable disposition. If they revenged a 
quarrel with another clan by killing some of the enemy or carrying otf 
their cattle and laying their lands waste, they were highly esteemed, and 
great expectations were formed of their future prowess and exploits. Bat 
if they failed in their attempts, they were not respected ; and if they ap- 
peared disinclined to engage in hostile rencontres, they were despised.* 

The military ranks of the clans were fixed and perpetual. The chief 
<vas, of course, the principal commander. The oldest cadet commanded 
the right wing, and the youngest the rear. Every head of a distinct 
family was captain of his own tribe. An ensign or standard-bfiarer 
was attached to each clan, who generally inherited his office, which had 
been usually conferred on an ancestor who had distinguished himselC 
A small salary was attached to this office. 

Each clan had a stated place of rendezvous, where they met at the 
call of their chief. When an emergency arose for an immediate meeting 
from the incursions of a hostile clan, the cross or tarie, or fiery-cross, 
M'as immediately despatched through the territories of the clan. This 
signal consisted of two pieces of wood placed in the form of a cross. 
One of the ends of the horizontal piece was either burnt or burning, 
and a piece of linen or white cloth stained with blood was suspended 
from the other end. Two men, each with a cross in his hand, were 
despatched by the chief in different directions, who kept running with 
great speed, shouting the war cry of the tribe, and naming the place of 
rendezvous, if different from the usual place of meeting. The cross was 
delivered from hand to hand, and as each fresh bearer ran at full speed, 
the clan assembled with great celerity. General Stewart says, that one 
of the latest instances of the fiery-cross being used, was in seventeen 
hundred and forty-five by Lord Breadalbane, when it went round Loch 
Tay, a distance of thirty-two miles, in three hours, to raise his people and 
prevent their joining the rebels, but with less effect than in seventeen 
hundred and fifteen M-^hen it went the same round, and when five hundred 
men assembled the same evening under the command of the Laird of 
Glenlyon to join the Earl of Mar. 

• Martin observes that in the Western Islands, ** every heir, or young chieftain of a 
tribe, was obliged in honour to give a public specimen of his valour before he was owned 
ar.d detlared governor or leader of his people, who obeyed and followed him upon all occa- 
sions. This chieftain was usually attended with a retinue of young men of quality, who 
had not beforehand given any proof of tiieir valour, and were anibiliuus of such an op- 
portunity to signalize themselves. It was usual for the captain to lead tiiein, to make 
a desperate incursion upon some neighbour or other that they were in feud with, and they 
were obliged to bring, by open force, the cattle they found on the lands ihey attacked, or 
to die in the attempt. After the performance of this achievement, the young chieftain 
was ever after reputed valiant, and worthy of government, and such as were ot his retinue 
acquired the like reputation. This custom being reciprocally used among them, was not 
reputed robbery, for the damage which one tri'Mj sustained by this essay of the chieftain 
of another, was repaired when their chieftain came in his turn to make his specimen; but 
1 have not heard an inst.ince of this practice for these sixty years past." Western 
Islands.— 2d edit. p. 101, 102. 



Every clan had its own war cry, (called in Scottish slogan,) to which 
every clansman answered. It served as a watch-word in cases of sudden 
alarm, in the confusion of combat, or in the darkness of the night. The 
clans were also distinguished by a particular badge, or by the peculiar 
arrangements or sets of the different colours of the tartan, which, with 
the different war cries, will be fully noticed when we come to treat of 
the history of the clans. 

When a clan went upon any expedition they were much addicted to 
omens. If they met an armed man they believed that good was por- 
tended. If they observed a deer, fox, hare, or any other four-footed 
beast of game, and did not succeed in killing it, they prognosticated evil. 
If a woman barefooted crossed the road before them, they seized her 
and drew blood from her forehead. 

The C aid' Oidhch e^ovmghf&^vowision, was paid by many tenants to 
the chief, and in hunting or going on an expedition, the tenant who 
lived near the hill was bound to furnish the master and his followers a 
night's entertainment, with brawn for his dogs. 

There are no sufficient data to enable us to estimate correctly the 
number of fighting men which the clans could bring at any time into 
the field ; but a general idea may be formed of their strength in seven- 
teen hundred and forty-five, from the following statement of the respective 
forces of the clans as taken from the memorial supposed to be drawn up 
by the Lord President Forbes of CuUoden, for the information of govern- 
ment. It is to be observed, however, that besides the clans here men- 
tioned, there were many independent gentlemen, as General Stewart ob- 
serves, who had many followers, but being what were called broken 
names, or small tribes, are omitted. 


• • • 


Breadalbane, . 


• • • 

. 1000 

Lochnell and other chieftains of the Campbells, 



• • • 

. 500 



Stewart of Appin, 

• * • 

. 300 



Stewart of Grandtully, 


. 300 

Clan Gregor, 


Duke of Athol, 

. 3000 



Duke of Gordon, 

• • • 

. 300 

Grant of Grant, . 



• • • 

. 800 



Frasers, . , 

• • 

. 900 

Grant of Glenmorriston, 



• • • 

. 200 



Duke of Perth, 300 

Seatbrth, 1000 

Cromarty, Scatwell, Gairloch, and other chieftains 

of the Mackenzies, ..... 1500 

Laird of Menzies, •...•• 300 

Munros, ....... 300 

Rosses 500 

Sutherland, 2000 

Mackays, 800 

Sinclairs, . . • . • • . 1100 

Macdonald of Slate, . . . . * 700 

Macdonald of Clanronald, . . . 700 

Macdonell of Glengary, ..... 500 

Macdonell of Keppoch, .... 300 

Macdonald of Glencoe, . . . . .130 

Robertsons, ...... 200 

Camerons, ....... 800 

M'Kinnon, 200 

Macleod, . . . . . . . 700 

The Duke of Montrose, Earls of Bute and Moray, 
Macfarlanes, M'Neils of Barra, M'Nabs, 

M'Naughtons, Lamonts, &c. &c. . . 5600 


There is nothing so remarkable in the political history of any countiy 
as the succession of the Highland chiefs, and the long and uninterrupted 
sway which they held over their followers. The authority which a 
chief exercised among his clan was truly paternal, and he might, with 
great justice, have been called the father of his people. We cannot ac- 
count for that warm attachment and the incorruptible , and unshaken 
fidelity which the clans uniformly displayed towards their chiefs, on any 
other ground, than the kind and conciliatory system which they must 
have adopted towards their people; for, much as the feelings of the latter 
might have been awakened, by the songs and traditions of the bards, to 
a respect for the successors of the heroes whose praises they heard cele- 
brated, a sense of wrongs committed, or of oppressions exercised, would 
have obliterated every feeling of attachment in the minds of the sufferers, 
and caused them to attempt to get rid of a tyrant who had rendered 
himself obnoxious by his tyranny 

The division of the people into small tribes, and the establishment of 
patriarchal government, were attended with many important consequences 
affecting the character of the Highlanders. This creation of an imperium 
in imperio was an anomaly, but it was, nevertheless, rendered necessary 
from the state of society in the Highlands shortly after the transference 
of the seat of government from the mountains. The authority of tlae 


king, though weak and inefficient, continued, however, to be recognized, 
nominally at least, except indeed when he interfered in the disputes 
between the clans. On such occasions his authority was utterly disre- 
garded. " His mandates could neither stop the depredations of one clan 
against another, nor allay their mutual hostilities. Delinquents could 
not, with impunity, be pursued into the bosom of a clan which protected 
them, nor could his judges administer the laws in opposition to their in. 
terests or their will. Sometimes he strengthened his arm by fomenting 
animosities among them, and by entering occasionally into the interest 
of one, in order to weaken another. Many instances of this species oi 
policy occur in Scottish history, which, for a long period, was unhappily 
a mere record of internal violence."* 

The general laws being thus superseded by the internal feuds of the 
clans, and the authority of the sovereign being insufficient to repress 
these disorders, a perpetual system of warfare, aggression, depredation, and 
contention existed among them, which, during the continuance of clan- 
ship, banished peace from the Highlands. The little sovereignties of the 
clans " touched at so many points, yet were so independent of one 
another; they approached so nearly, in many respects, yet were, in 
others, so distant; there were so many opportunities of encroachment, 
on the one hand, and so little of a disposition to submit to it, on the 
other; and tiie quarrel of one individual of the tribe so naturally in- 
volved the rest, that there was scarcely ever a profound peace, or perfect 
cordiality between them. Among their chiefs the most deadly feuds 
frequently arose from opposing interests, or from wounded pride. These 
feuds were warmly espoused by the whole clan, and were often trans- 
mitted, with aggravated animosity, from generation to generation."-]- 

The disputes between opposing clans were frequently made matters of 
negotiation, and their differences were often adjusted by treaties. Op- 
posing clans, as a means of strengthening themselves against the attacks 
of their rivals, or of maintaining the balance of power, also entered into 
coalitions with friendly neighbours, Tiiese bands of amity or manrent^ 
as they were called, were of the nature of treaties of offensive and de- 
fensive alliance, by which the contracting parties bound themselves to 
assist each other; and it is remarkable that the duty of allegiance to the 
king was always acknowledged in these treaties, — " always excepting my 
duty to our lord the king, and to our kindred and friends," was a clause 
which was uniformly inserted in them. In the same manner, when men 
who were not chiefs of clans, but of subordinate tribes, thus bound them- 
selves, their fidelity to their chiefs was always excepted. The smaller 
clans who were unable to defend themselves, and such clans or families 
who had lost their chiefs, were included in these friendly treaties.^: 

• Stewart's Sketches, I. 30. f Ibid. I. 30,31. 

\ General Stewart sa,,s that the families of the r.ame of Stewart, whose estates lay in 
the district of At hoi, and whose chief, by birth, was at a disiaiiee, ranged themselvet 
under (he family of AthtJ, though tliey were thuinselves sunicieully nujneruus tx» riU;^ 
1000 fighling men. 


Under these treaties the smaller clans identified themselves with the 
greater clans; they engaged in the quarrels, followed the fortunes, and 
fought under the greater chiefs ; but their ranks, as General Stewart ob- 
serves, were separately marshalled, and led by their own subordinate 
chieftains and lairds, who owned submission only when necessary', for 
the success of combined operations. We shall give several instances of 
this union in the history of the clans. 

As the system of clanship, by repudiating the authority of the sovereign 
and of the laws, prevented the clans from ever coming to any general 
terms of accommodation for settling their differences, their feuds were in- 
terminable, and the Highlands were, therefore, for ages, the theatre of a 
constant petty warfare destructive of the social virtues. " The spirit of 
opposition and rivalry between the clans perpetuated a system of hos- 
tility, encouraged the cultivation of the military at the expense of the 
social virtues, and perverted their ideas of both law and morality. Re- 
venge was accounted a duty, the destruction of a neighbour a meritori' 
ous exploit, and rapine an honourable occupation. Their love of dis- 
tinction, and their conscious reliance on their courage, when under the 
direction of these perverted notions, only tended to make their feuds 
more implacable, their condition more agitated, and their depredations 
more rapacious and desolating. Superstition added its influence in ex- 
asperating animosities, by teaching the clansmen, that, to revenge the 
death of a relation or friend, was a sacrifice agreeable to their shades : 
thus engaging on the side of the most implacable hatred, and the dark- 
est vengeance, the most amiable and domestic of all our feelings, — • 
reverence for the memory of the dead, and affection for the virtues of 
of the living."* 

As the causes out of which feuds originated were innumerable, so 
many of them were trivial and unimportant, but as submission to the 
most trifling insult was considered disgraceful, and might, if overlooked, 
lead to fresh aggression, the clan was immediately summoned, and the 
cry for revenge met with a ready response in every breast. The most 
glaring insult that could be oft'ered to a clan, was to speak disrespect- 
fully of its chief, -j- an offence which was considered as a personal affront 
by all his followers, and was resented accordingly. 

It often happened that the insulted clan was unable to take the field 
to repel aggression or to vindicate its honour; but the injury was never 
forgotten, and the memory of it was treasured up till a fitting oppor- 
tunity for taking revenge should arrive. The want of strength was 
sometimes supplied by cunning, and the blackest and deadliest inten- 
tions of hatred and revenge were sought to be perpetrated under the 

• Stewart's Sketches, Vol. T. 33, 31. 
f '* When a quarrel begins in words between two Highlanders of ditrerent clans, it is 
esteemed the very heiglit of malice and rancour, and the greatest of ail provocations, to 
reproach one another with the vices or personal defects of tbeir chiefs, or that of the par- 
ticular branch whence ihcy sprung." — Lettersj from a Gentleman ii; liie North of .Scutlattd 


mask, of conciliation and friendship. This was the natural result of the 
inefficiency of the laws which could afford no redress for wrongs, and 
which, therefore, left every individual to vindicate his rights with his own 
hand. The feeling of revenge, when directed against rival tribes, was 
cherished and honoured, and to such an extent was it carried, that 
there are well authenticated instances where one of the adverse parties 
have been exterminated m the bloody and ferocious conflicts which the 
feuds occasioned. 

As the wealth of the Highlanders consisted chiefly in flocks and herds, 
'* the usual mode of commencing attacks, or of making reprisals, was by 
an incursion to carry off the cattle of the hostile clan. A predatory ex- 
pedition was the general declaration of enmity and a command given by 
the chief to clear the pastures of the enemy, constituted the usual letters 
of marque."* These creachsj as such depredations were termed, were 
carried on with systematic order, and were considered as perfectly justi- 
fiable. If lives were lost in these forays, revenge full and ample was 
taken, but in general personal hostilities were avoided in these incursions 
either against the Lowlanders or rival tribes. These predatory expedi- 
tions were more frequently directed against the Lowlanders, whom the 
Highlanders considered as aliens, and whose cattle they, therefore, con- 
sidered as fair spoil at all times. The forays were generally executed 
with great secrecy, and the cattle were often lifted and secured for a con- 
siderable time before they were missed. To trace the cattle which had 
been thus carried off, the owners endeavoured to discover theic foot 
marks in the grass, or by the yielding of the heath over which they had 
passed; and so acute had habit rendered their sight, that they frequently 
succeeded, in this manner, in discovering their property. The man on 
whose property the track of the cattle was lost was held liable if he did 
not succeed in following out the trace or discovering the cattle; and if he 
did not make restitution, or offer to compensate the loss, an immediate 
quarrel was the consequence. A reward called Tasgal money was 
sometimes offered for the recovery of stolen cattle; but as this was con- 
sidered in the light of a bribe it was generally discouraged. The 
Camerons and some other clans, it is said, bound themselves by oath 
never to accept such a reward, and to put to death ?ill who should re- 
ceive it. 

Besides the Creachs there was another and a peculiar class of forays 
or spoliations called Cearnachs^ a military term of similar import with 
the Catherens of the Lowlands, the Kernes of the English, and the 
Catervas of the Romans. The Cearnachs were originally a select bod^ 
of men employed in difficult and dangerous enterprizes where more than 
ordinary honour was to be acquired ; but, in process of time, they were 
employed in the degrading and dishonourable task of leving contribu- 
tions on their Lowland neighbours, or in forcing them to pay tribute or 

• Stewart's Sketches, I. 35. 


black mail for protection. Young men of the second order of gentry 
who were desirous of entering the military profession, frequently joined 
in these exploits, as they were considered well fitted for accustoming those 
who engaged in them to the fatigues and exercises incident to a military 
life. The celebrated Robert Macgregor Campbell, or Rob Roy,* was 
the most noted of these freebooters. 

The cearnachs were principally the borderers living close to and 
within the Grampian range, but cearnachs from the more northerly parts 
of the Highlands also paid frequent visits to the Lowlands, and carried 
off large quantities of booty. The border cearnachs judging such irrup- 
tions as an invasion of their rights, frequently attacked the northern 
cearnachs on their return homewards ; and if they succeeded in capturing 
the spoil, they either appropriated it to their own use or restored it to 
the owners. 

It might be supposed that the system of spoliation we have described, 
would have led these freebooters occasionally to steal from one another, 

* This famous person, whose name has been immortalized by our great Novelist, was 
the younger son of Mr Macgregor of Glengyle (a respectable family in Perthshire,) by 
a daughter of Campbell of Glenlyon, sister to the Commander at the base massacre of 
Glenco. He was born between the year 1657 and 1660, and married Helen Campbell of 
the family of Glenfalloch. Rob Roy followed the profession of a drover or cattle-dealer 
at an early period of life, and was so successful in business, that before the year 1707 he 
purchased the lands of Craigrostane on the banks of Lochlomond from the family of 
Montrose, and relieved the estate of Glengyle, the property of his nephew, from consider- 
able debts. Before the Union no cattle were allowed to be imported into England, but 
free intercourse in that commodity being allowed by the treaty, various speculators engag- 
ed in this traffic, and, among others, the Marquis of Montrose, afterwards created Duke, 
and Rob Roy entered into a joint adventure. The capital to be advanced was fixed at 
10,000 merks each, and Rob Roy was to purchase the cattle and drive them to England for 
sale. Macgregor made his purchases accordingly, but finding the market overstocked on 
his arrival in England, in consequence of too many speculators having entered the field, 
he was obliged to sell the cattle below prime cost. The Duke refused to bear any share of 
the loss, and insisted on repayment of the whole money advanced by him with interest. 
Macgregor told him that if such were his principles he should not considerithis principle 
to pay the interest, nor his interest to pay the principal, and he kept his word. Macgregor 
having expended the Duke's money in organizing a body of the Macgregors in 1715, under 
the nominal command of his nephew, his Grace took legal means to recover his 
money, and laid hold of the lands of Craigrostane in security. This proceeding so exas- 
perated Macgregor, that he declared perpetual war against the Duke, and resolved that in 
future he should supply himself with cattle from his Grace's estates, a resolution which 
he literally kept, and for nearly thirty years, down to the day of his death, he carried otl 
the Duke's cattle with impunity, and disposed of them publicly in difierent parts of the 

Although these cattle generally belonged to the Duke's tenants, he was the ultimate 
sufferer, as they were unable to pay their rents, to liquidate which, iheir cjitlle mainly 
contributed. Macgregor also levied contributions in meal and money ; but he never took 
it away till delivered to the Duke's storekeeper in payment of rent, and he then gave tlie 
storekeeper a receipt for the quantity taken. At settling the money-rents Macgregor 
often attended, and several instances are recorded of his having compelled the Duke's fac- 
tor to pay him a share of the rents, which he took good care to see were discharged to the 
tenants beforehand. This singular man lived till nearly eighty years of age, thirty v.f 
which he spent in open violation of the laws. He died peaceably in his bed, and his 
funeral, which took place in 1736, was attended by the whole population of the sunound- 
ina country, with the exception of the Duke and his immediate friends. This funeral was 
the las.t at which a pipei officiated iit the Highlands of Perthshire. 

I. 3 


Such, however, was not the case; for they observed the strictest honcs<j 
m this respect. No precautions were taken — because unnecessary — to 
protect property, and the usual securities of locks, bolts, and bars, were 
never used, nor even thought of. Instances of theft from dwelling- 
houses were very rare; and, with the exception of one case which hap- 
pened so late as the year seventeen hundred and seventy, highway rob- 
bery was totally unknown. Yet, notwithstanding the laudable regard 
thus shown by the freebooters to the property of their own society, they 
attached no ideas of moral turpitude to the acts of spoliation we have 
alluded to. Donald Cameron, or Donald Bane Leane, an active leader 
of a party of banditti who had associated together after the troubles of 
seventeen hundred and forty-five, tried at Perth for cattle-stealing, 
and executed at Kinloch Rannoch, in seventeen hundred and fifty- 
two, expressed surprise and indignation at his hard fate, as he con- 
sidered it, as he had never committed murder nor robbery, or taken 
any thing but cattle off the grass of those with whom he had quarrelled. 
The practice of " lifting of cattle " seems to have been viewed as a very 
venial offence, even by persons holding very different views of morality 
from the actors, in proof of which, General Stewart refers to a letter of 
Field-Marshall Wade to Mr Forbes of Culloden, then Lord Advocate, 
dated October, seventeen hundred and twenty-nine, describing an en- 
tertainment given him on a visit to a party of cearnachs. " The Knight 
and I," says the Marshall, " travelled in my carriage with great ease 
and pleasure to the feast of oxen which the highwaymen had prepared for 
us, opposite Lochgarry, where we found four oxen roasting at the same 
time, in great order and solemnity. We dined in a tent pitched for 
that purpose. The beef was excellent ; and we had plenty of bumpers, 
not forgetting your Lordship's and Culloden's health ; and, after three 
hours' stay, took leave of our benefactors, the highwaymen,* and arrived 
at the hut at Dalnachardoch, before it was dark." f 

Amid the violence and turbulence which existed in the Highlands, 
no appeal for redress of wrongs committed, or injuries sustained, could 
be effectually made to the lega,l tribunals of the country ; but to prevent 
the utter anarchy which would have ensued from such a state of society, 
voluntary and associated tribunals, composed of the principal men of 
the tribes, were appointed. A composition in cattle being the mode of 
compensating injuries, these tribunals generally determined the amount 
of the compensation according to the nature of the injury, and the 
wealth and rank of the parties. These compensations were called Eriff. 

Besides these tribunals, every chief held a court, in which he decided 

♦ General Stewart observes, that the Marshall had not at this period been long enough 
ill the Highlands to distinguish a cearnach, or " lifter of cattle," from a highwayman. 
" No such character as the latter then existed in the country; and it may be presumed 
he did nut consider these men in the light which the word would indicate, — for certainly 
the Conunaiider-in-chief would neither have associated with Jt»€n whom he supposed lo 
bo r( ally highwaymen, nor partaken of their hospitality." 

f Ci'.lloden Papers 


all disputes occurring among his clansmen. He generally resided 
among them. " His castle was the court where rewards were distri- 
buted, and the most enviable distinctions conferred. All disputes were 
settled by his decision, and the prosperity or poverty of his tenants de- 
pended on his proper or improper treatment of them. These tenants 

followed his standard in war — attended him in his hunting excursions - 

supplied his table with the produce of their farms — and assembled to 
reap his corn, and to prepare and bring home his fuel. They looked 
up to him as their adviser and protector. The cadets of his family, re- 
spected in proportion to the proximity of the relation in which they 
stood to him, became a species of sub-chiefs, scattered over different 
parts of his domains, holding their lands and properties of him, with a 
sort of subordinate jurisdiction over a portion of his people, and were 
ever ready to afford him their counsel or assistance in all emergencies. 

" Great part of the rent of land was paid in kind, and generally con- 
sumed where it was produced. One chief was distinguished from an- 
other, not by any additional splendour of dress or equipage, but by 
being followed by more dependants, and by entertaining a greater num- 
ber of guests. What his retainers gave from their individual property 
was spent amongst them in the kindest and most liberal manner. At 
the castle every individual was made welcome, and was treated accord- 
ing to his station, with a degree of courtesy and regard to his feelings 
unknown in any other country.* This condescension, while it raised 
the clansman in his own estimation, and drew closer the ties between 
him and his superior, seldom tempted him to use any improper fami- 
liarities. He believed himself well born, and was taught to respect 
himself in the respect which he showed to his chief; ami thus, instead 
of complaining of the difference of station and fortune, or considering a 
ready obedience to his chieftain's call as a slavish oppression, he felt 
convinced that he was supporting his own honour in showing his grati- 
tude and duty to the generous head of his family. * Hence, the High- 
landers, whom more savage nations called savage, carried in the outward 
expression of their manners the politeness of courts without their vices, 
and in their bosoms the high point of honour without its follies.' " f 

In many minds the idea of a Highland chief is associated with that of 
a domineering tyrant who plunders and oppresses his people. This 
notion is, however, extremely fallacious. " Nothing," says Mrs Grant, 

^ This was noticed by Dr Johnson. He thus describes a meeting between the young 
laird of Coll and some of his "subjects:" — " Wherever we roved, we were pleased to see 
the reverence with which his subjects regarded him. He did not endeavour to dazzle 
them by any magnificence of dress, — lus only distinction was a feather in his bonnet ; 
but as soon as he appeared, they forsook their work and clustered about him : he took 
them by the hand, and they seemed mutually delighted. He has the proper disposition 
of a chieftain, and seems desirous to continue the customs of his house. The bagpipei 
played regularly when dinner was served, whose person and dress made a good appear- 
ance; and he brought no disgrace upon the family of Rankin, which has long supplied 
the lairds of Coll with hereditary music." — Journey to the JVestem Islands. 

f Stewart's Sketches, i. 46, &c. — Dalrymple's MemoirSt 



'' can be more erroneous than the prevalent idea, that a Highland chief 
was an ignorant and unprincipled cyrant, who rewarded the abject sub- 
mission of his followers with relentless cruelty and rigorous oppression. 
If ferocious in disposition, or weak in understanding, he was curbed and 
directed by the elders of his tribe, who, by inviolable custom, were his 
standing counsellors, without whose advice no measure of any kind was 
decided." * 

It cannot, however, be denied, that the authority of the chief was 
naturally arbitrary, and was sometimes exercised unduly and with great 
severity ; as «, proof of which, there is said to exist among the papers of 
the Perth family, an application to Lord Drummond from the town of 
Perth, dated in seventeen hundred and seven, requesting an occasional 
use of his Lordship's executioner, who was considered an expert opera- 
tor, a request with which his Lordship complied, reserving, however, to 
himself the power of recalling the executioner when he had occasion for 
his services. Another curious illustration of this exercise of power is 
given by General Stewart. Sometime before the year seventeen hun- 
dred and forty-five. Lord President Forbes dined at Blair castle with 
the Duke of AthoU, on his way from Edinburgh to his seat at Culloden. 
A petition was delivered to his Grace in the course of the evening, on 
reading which, he thus addressed the President : " My Lord, here is a 
petition from a poor man, whom Commissary Bisset, my baron bailie 
(an officer to whom the chief occasionally delegated his authority), has 
condemned to be hanged ; and as he is a clever fellow, and is strongly 
recommended to mercy, I am much inclined to pardon him." " But 
your Grace knows," said the President, " that, after condemnation, no 
man can pardon but his Majesty." " As to that," replied the Duke, 
" since I have the power of punishing, it is but right that I should have 
the power to pardon." Then, calling upon a servant who was in wait- 
ing, his Grace said, " Go, send an express to Logierait, and order 
Donald Stewart, presently under sentence, to be instantly set at liberty." 

The authority which the generality of the chiefs exercised, was ac- 
quired from ancient usage and the weakness of the government ; but 
the lords of regality, and the great barons and chiefs, had jurisdiction 
conferred on them by the crown, both in civil and criminal cases, which 
they sometimes exercised in person and sometimes by deputy. The 
persons to whom they delegated this authority were called bailies. In 
civil matters the baron or chief could judge in questions of debt within 
his barony, as well as in most of those cases known by the technical 
term of possessory actions. And though it has always been an esta- 
blished rule of law, that no person can be judge in his own cause, a 
baron might judge in all actions between himself and his vassals and 
tenants, necessary for making his rents and feu-duties effectual. Thus, 
he could ascertain the price of corns due by a tenant and pronounce 

• bupvi-stitions of the Highlanders. 


sentence against him for arrears of rent; but in all cases where tlie 
chief was a party, he could not judge in person. The criminal jurisdic- 
tion of a baron, according to the laws ascribed to Malcolm Mackenneth, 
extended to all crimes except treason, and the four pleas of the crown, 
viz. robbery, murder, rape, and fire-raising. Freemen could be tried 
by none but their peers. Whenever the baron held a court, his vassals 
were bound to attend and afford such assistance as might be required. 
On these occasions, many useful regulations for the good of the com- 
munity were often made, and supplies were sometimes voluntarily 
granted to the chief to support his dignity. The bounty of the vassals 
was especially and liberally bestowed on the marriage of the chief, and 
in the portioning of his daughters and younger sons. These donations 
consisted of cattle, which constituted the principal riches of the country 
in those patriarchal days. In this way the younger sons of the chief 
were frequently provided for on their settlement in life. 

The reciprocal ties which connected the chief and his clan were al- 
most indissoluble. In return for the kindness and paternal care be- 
stowed by the former on the latter, they yielded a ready submission to 
his authority, and evinced a rare fidelity to his person, which no adver- 
sity could shake. Innumerable instances of this devoted attachmen/: 
might be given, but two will suffice. In the battle of Inverkeithing, 
between the royalists and the troops of Oliver Cromwell, five hundred 
of the followers of the Laird of Maclean were left dead on the field. 
Sir Hector Maclean being hard pressed by the enemy in the heat of 
the action, he was successively covered from their attacks by seven 
brothers, all of whom sacrificed their lives in his defence ; and as one 
fell another came up in succession to cover him, crying, " Another for 
Hector." This phrase, says General Stewart, has continued ever since 
a proverb or watchword, when a man encounters any sudden danger that 
requires instant succour. The other instance is that of a servant of the 
late James Menzies of Culdares, who had been engaged in the rebellion 
of seventeen hundred and fifteen. Mr Menzies was taken at Preston in 
Lancashire, was carried to London, where he was tried and condemned, 
but afterwards reprieved. This act prevented him from turning out in 
seventeen hundred and forty-five : but to show his good wishes towards 
Prince Charles, he sent him a handsome charger as a present, when ad- 
vancing through England. The servant who led and delivered the 
horse was taken prisoner and carried to Carlisle, where he was tried 
and condemned. Every attempt was made, by threats of immediate 
execution, in case of refusal, and promises of pardon, on giving informa- 
tion, to extort a discovery from him of the person who sent the horse, 
but in vain. He knew, he said, what would be the consequence of a 
disclosure, and that his own life was nothing in comparison with that 
which it would endanger. Being hard pressed at the place of execu- 
tion to inform on his master, he asked those about him if they were 
really serious in supposing that he was such a villain as to betray his 


master. He <said, that if he did what they desired, and forgot his maj'- 
ter and his trust, he needed not return to his country, for Glenlyoii 
would be no home or country for him, as he would be despised and 
hunted out of the glen. This trusty servant's name was John Mac- 
naughton, a native of Glenlyon in Perthshire.* 

The obedience and attachment of the Highlanders to their chiefs, and 
the readiness they displayed, on all occasions, to adopt, when called upon, 
the quarrels of their superiors,f did not, however, make them forget 

* A picture of the horse was in the possession of the late General Stewart of Garth, 
l)eiiig a legacy bequeathed to him by the daughter of Mr Menzies. " A brother of Mac- 
iiHughton (says the General) lived for many years on the estate of Garth, and died ia 
1790. He always went about armed, at least so far armed, that when debarred wearing 
a sword or dirk, he slung a large long knife in his belt. He was one of the last I re- 
collect of the ancient race, and gave a very favourable impression of their general man- 
ner and appearance. He was a smith by trade, and although of the lowest order of 
the people, he walked about with an air and manner that might have become a field- 
marshal. He spoke with great force and fluency of language, and, although most re- 
spectful to those to whom he thought respect was due, he had an appearance of inde- 
pendence and ease, that strangers, ignorant of the language and character of the people, 
might have supposed to proceed from impudence. As he always carried arms when 
legally permitted, so he showed on one occasion that he knew how to handle them. When 
the Black Watch was quartered on the banks of the rivers Tay and Lyon, in 1741, an 
aflVay arose between a few of the soldiers and some of the people at a fair at Kenmoj^i;. 
Some of the Breadalbane men took the part of the soldiers, and, as many were armed, 
swords were quickly drawn, and one of the former killed, when their opponents, with 
whom was Macnaughton, and a smith, (to whom he was then an apprentice,) retreated 
and fled to the ferry-boat across the Tay. There was no bridge, and tlie ferryman, on 
seeing the fray, chained his boat. Macnaughton was the first at the river side, and 
leaping into the boat, followed by his master, the smith, with a stroke of his broadsword 
cut the chain, and crossing the river, fixed the boat on the opposite side, and thus pre- 
vented an immediate pursuit. Indeed no farther steps were taken. The earl of Bread- 
albane, who was then at Taymouth, was immediately sent for. On inquiry, he found 
that the whole had originated from an accidental reflection thrown out by a soldier of 
one of the Argyle companies against the Atholemen, then supposed to be Jacobites, 
and that it was difficult to ascertain who gave the fatal blow. The man who was killed 
was an old warrior of nearly eighty years of age. He had been with Lord Breadalbane'a 
men, under Campbell of Glenlyon, at the battle of SherifTmuir ; and, as his side lost 
their cause, he swore never to shave again. He kept his word, and as his beard grew 
till it reached his girdle, he got the name of Padric-ua-Phaisaig, " Peter with the Beard." 

f- Sir Walter Scott has thus beautifully and justly described tlie alacrity of a clau 
gathering at the call of a chief: — 

*♦ He whistled shrill. 
And he was answered from the hill ; 
Wild as the scream of the curlieu. 
From crag to crag the signal flew ; 
Instant, through copse and iieath irose 
Bonnets and spears and bended bows ; 
On right, on left, above, below, 
Sprung up at once tlie lurking foe ; 
From shingles grey their lances start. 
The bracken bush sends forth the durt. 
The rushes and the willow wand, 
Are bristling into axe and braiid, 
A. id every tuft of broom gives life 
To plaided warrior, armed for strife. 


their own independence. When a chief was unfit for his situation, or 
had degraded his name and family, the clan proceeded to depose him, 
and set up the next in succession, if deserving, to whom they transferred 
their allegiance, as happened to two chiefs of the families of Macdonald 
of Clanronald and Macdonell of Keppoch. The head of the family of 
Stewart of Garth, who, on account of his ferocious disposition, was nick- 
named the " Fierce Wolf," was, about the year fifteen hundred and 
twenty, not only deposed, but confined for life in a cell in the castle of 
Garth, which was, therefore, long regarded by the people with a kind of 
superstitious terror. The clans even sometimes interfered with the 
choice of the chiefs in changing their places of abode, or in selecting a 
site for a new residence. The Earl of Seaforth was prevented by his 
clan (the M'Kenzies) from demolishing Brahan castle, the principal seat 
of the family. In the same way the Laird of Glenorchy, ancestor of 
the Marquis of Breadalbane, having some time previous to the year fif- 
teen hundred and seventy, laid the foundation of a castle which he in- 
tended to build on a hill on the side of Lochtay, was compelled, or in- 
duced, by his people, to change his plan and build the castle of Bal- 
loch or Taymouth. 

From what has been stated, it will be perceived that the influence of 
a chief with his clan depended much on his personal qualities, of which 
kindness and a condescension, which admitted of an easy familiarity, were 
necessary traits. The author of ' Letters from the North* thus alludes to 
the familiarity which existed between a chief and his clan, and the af- 
fability and courtesy with which they were accustomed to be treated : 
'' And as the meanest among them pretended to be his relations by con- 
eanguinity, they insisted on the privilege of taking him by the hand 
whenever they met him. Concerning this last, I once saw a number of 
very discontented countenances when a certain lord, one of the chiefs* 
endeavoured to evade this ceremony. It was in the presence of an 
English gentleman, of high station, from whom he would willingly have 
concealed the knowledge of such seeming familiarity with slaves of wretch- 
ed appearance ; and thinking it, I suppose, a kind of contradiction to 
what he had often boasted at other times, viz., his despotic power in bis 
clan " 

That whistle garrison'd the glen 
At once with full five hundred men. 
As if the yawning hill to heaven 
A subterranean host had given. 
Watching their leader's beck and will, 
All silent there they stood, and still, 
Like the loose crags whose threatening mas« 
Lay tottering o'er the hollow pass. 
As if tin infant's touch could urge 
Their headlong passage down the verge, 
With step and weapon forward flung. 
Upon the mountain-side they hung. 

Lady of the Lake, C nto ^ j^. 


From the feeling of self-respect which the urbanity and condescension 
of the chiefs naturally created in the minds of the people, arose that lio- 
nourable principle of fidelity to superiors and to their trust, which we 
have already noticed, " and which," says General Stewart, " was so ge- 
nerally and so forcibly imbibed, that the man who betrayed his trust 
was considered unworthy of the name which he bore, or of the kindred 
to which he belonged." Besides the instance already given in illustra- 
tion of this honourable principle, others will be related in the course of 
this work. 

From this principle flowed a marked detestation of treachery, a vice 
of very rare occurrence among the Highlanders ; and so tenacious were 
they, on tha^. point, that the slightest suspicion of infidelity on the part of an 
individual estranged him from the society of his clan, who shunned him 
as a person with whom it was dangerous any longer to associate. The 
case of John Du Cameron, better known, from his large size, by the 
name of Sergeant Mor,* affords an example of this. This man had been 
a sergeant in the French service, and returned to Scotland in the year 
seventeen hundred and forty-five, when he engaged in the rebellion. 
Having no fixed abode, and dreading the consequences of having served 
in the French army, and of being afterwards engaged in the rebellion, 
he formed a party of freebooters, and took up his residence among the 
mountains between the counties of Perth, Inverness, and Argyle, where 
he carried on a system of spoliation by carrying off" the cattle of those 
he called his enemies, if they did not purchase his forbearance by the 
payment of Black mail. Cameron had long been in the habit of sleep- 
ing in a barn on the farm of Dunan in Rannoch ; but having been be- 
trayed by some person, he was apprehended one night when asleep in 
the barn, in the year seventeen hundred and fifty-three, by a party of 
Lieutenant (after Sir Hector) Munro's detachment. On finding him- 
self seized, being a powerful man, he shook off' all the soldiers who had 

* The following amusing anecdote of tliis man is related by General Stewart: — " On 
one occasion he met with an officer of the garrison of Fort-Wilh'am on the moun- 
Ijiins of Lochaber. The officer told him that he suspected he had lost his way, and, 
having a large sum of money for the garrison, w,is afraid of meeting the sergeant 
Mor ; he therefore requested that the stranger would accompany him on his road. The 
other agreed ; and, while they walked on, they talked much of the sergeant and his 

feats, the officer using much freedom with his name, calling him robber, murderer 

* Stop there,' interrupted his companion, * he does indeed take the cattle of the whigs 
and you Sassanachs, but neither he nor his cearnachs ever shed innocent blood ; except 
once,' added he, • that 1 was unfortunate at Braemar, when a man was killed, but I 
immediately ordered the creach (the spoil) to be abandoned, and left to the owners, re- 
treating as fast as we could after such a misfortune !' ' Vou,* says the officer, • what 
had you to do with the affair?' * I am John Du Cameron, — I am the sergeant Mor; 
there is tlie road to Inverlochay, — you cannot now mistake it. You and your money are 
safe. Tell )our governor to send a more wary messenger for his gold. Tell him also, 
that, although an outlaw, and forced to live on the public, I am a soldier as well as him- 
self, and would despise t »king his gold from a defenceless man who confided in me.' 
The officer lost no time in reaching the garrison, and never forgot the adventure, wh ch 
he frerjuently related." 


laid hold of him, and attempted to escape, but he was overpowered by 
the remainder of the party who had remained outside. He was carried 
to Perth, and there tried before the court of justiciary for the murder 
alluded to in the note, and various acts of theft and cattle stealing. 
Being found guilty, he was executed at Perth in seventeen hundred and 
fifty-three, and hung in chains. It was generally believed in the coun- 
try that Cameron had been betrayed by the man in whose barn he 
had taken shelter, and the circumstance of his renting a farm from go- 
vernment, on the forfeited estate of Strowan, on advantageous terms, 
strengthened the suspicion, but beyond this there was nothing to con- 
firm the imputation ; yet this man was ever after heartily despised, and, 
having by various misfortunes lost all his property, which obliged him 
to leave the country in great poverty, the people firmly believed, and 
the belief it is understood is still prevalent in Rannoch, that his mis- 
fortunes were a just judgment upon him for violating the trust reposed 
in him by an unsuspecting and unfortunate person. 

Such were some of the leading characteristics of this fine and cele- 
brated race of people, who preserved many of their national peculiarities 
till a comparatively recent period. These, however, are now fast dis- 
appearing amidst the march of modern improvement and civilization, 
and we are sorry to add that the vices which seem almost inseparable 
fi'om this new state of society, have found their way into the Highlands, 
and supplanted, in some degree, many of those shining virtues which 
were once the gloiy of the GaeL 




Accession of Alexander I. — Defeat of the Earl of Moray at Stracathrow — Insurrection 
in Moray — Rising of Somerled, Lord of the Isles — Defeat of Earl Gilchrist — New re- 
volt of Somerled — Tumults in Ross — Rebellion of Donal Bane — his death — Attempts 
of Harold, Earl of Orkney and Caithness — Insurrections in Ross, Moray, and Argyle 

Revolt of Gillespnc M'Scolane — Inauguration of Alexander III. — Revolt in Ross 

against the Earl — Battle of Bealligh-ne-Broig — Robert Bruce defeats the Lord of 
Lorn— His expedition against the Western Isles — their submission — New revolt of the 
Islanders — Feud between the Monroes and Mackintoshes — and between the Clan Chat- 
tan and the Camerons — Combat on the North Inch of Perth between the Clan Chat- 
tan and Clan Kay — Devastations of the Wolf of Badenoch and his son — Battle of 
Gasklune — Feud between the Earl of Sutherland and the Mackays — Battle of Tuttlm- 
Turwigh — Formidable insurrection of Donald of the Isles — Battle of Harlaw. 

We now resume the thread of our historical narrative. During the 
short reign of Edgar, which lasted nine years, viz. from one thousand 
and ninety-seven to eleven hundred and six, Scotland appears to have 
enjoyed repose; but that of his brother and successor, Alexander I., 
was disturbed in the year eleven hundred and twenty by an insurrec- 
tion in Moray, under Angus, the grandson of Lulach, who laid claim 
to the crown. This rising was immediately suppressed by the king 
in person, who, from the promptitude displayed by him, obtained the 
appellation of the fierce from his people. The Earl of Moray, ten years 
afterwards, again took the field for the purpose of overthrowing the 
government of King David ; but the latter having collected all his 
forces, and being aided by the martial barons of Northumberland, 
with Walter L'Espec at their head, Angus was completely defeated at 
Stracathrow, one of the passes in Forfarshire, whither he had advanced 
with his army. 

The next enterprise of any note was undertaken by Somerled, Thane 
of Argyle and the Isles, against the authority of Malcolm IV.; who, 
after various conflicts, v/as repulsed, though not subdued, by Gilchrist, 
earl of Angus. A peace, concluded with tnis powerful chieftain in 
eleven hundred and fifty-three, was considered of such importance as to 
form an epoch in the dating of Scottish charters. A still more formi- 
dable insurrection broke out among the Moray men, under Gildominick, 
on account of an attempt, on the part of the government, to intrude the 
Anglo-Norman jurisdiction, introduced into the Lowlands, upon their 
Celtic customs ; and the settling of Anglo-Belgic colonists among them. 
These insurgents laid waste the neighbouring counties, and so regard- 
|||||^S3 were they of the royal authority, that they actually hanged the 


heralds who were sent to summon them to lay down'th^ir arms. Mal- 
colm despatched the gallant Earl Gilchrist with an army to subdue 
them, but he was defeated, and forced to recross the Grampians. 

This defeat aroused Malcolm, who was naturally of an indolent disposi- 
tion. About the year eleven hundred and sixty he marched north with a 
powerful army, and found the enemy on the muir of Urquhart, near the 
Spey, ready to give him battle. After passing the Spey, the noblemen 
in the king's army reconnoitered the enemy ; but they found them so 
well prepared for action, and so flushed with their late success, that they 
considered the issue of a battle rather doubtful. On this account, the 
commanders advised the king to enter into a negotiation with the rebels, 
and to promise, that in the event of a submission their lives would be 
spared. The offer was accepted, and the king kept his word ; but as 
the Moray men were, as Buchanan says, " Homines inquieto semper 
ingenio," men of a factious disposition, his Majesty, by the advice of 
his nobles, ordained that every family in Moray which had been en- 
gaged in the rebellion should, within a limited time, remove out of Mo- 
ray to other parts of the kingdom, where lands would be assigned to them, 
and that their places should be supplied with people from other parts of 
the kingdom. For the performance of this order, they gave hostages, 
and at the time appointed transplanted themselves, some into the nor- 
thern, but the greater number into the southern counties.* Chalmers 
considers this removal of the Moray men as " an egregious probability, " 
because " the dispossessing of a whole people is so difficult an operation, 
that the recital of it cannot be believed without strong evidence ;"-|- but 
it is not said that the whole people were removed, and it is very proba- 
ble that only the ringleaders and their families were transported. The 
older historians say that the Moray men were (pene internecionem) al- 
most totally cut off in an obstinate battle, and strangers brought into 
their place ; but this statement is at variance with the register of Pais- 
ley, and the fact, that while there are very few persons of the name of 
Murray in Moray, they are numerous in the counties on the English 
borders, and are to be found in the more northern counties, where some 
of them have taken the name of Sutherland, favours the account which 
that writing gives of the transportation of the Moray men. 

About this time Somerled, the ambitious and powerful lord of the 
isles, made another and a last attempt upon the king's authority. Hav- 
ing collected a large force, chiefly in Ireland, he landed in eleven hun- 
dred and sixty-four near Renfrew, the seat of the Steward of Scotland »* 
but he was defeated by the brave inhabitants and the king's troops in a 
decisive battle, in which he and his son Gillecolane were slain. 

The reign of William the Lion was marked by many disturbances in 
the Highlands. The Gaelic population could not endure the new set- 
tlers whom the Saxon colonization had introduced among them, and 

• SJiaw's Hist, of Moray, p. 259-60, New Ed. f Caledonia, vol. i. p. 627. 


every opportunity -livas taken to vex and annoy them. At this period, 
the Gaelic people rose upon them, and forced them to retire to the 
towns and castles for shelter. An open insurrection broke out in Ross- 
shire, which obliged William, in the year eleven hundred and seventy- 
nine, to march into the north, where he built two garrisons to keep the 
people in check. He restored quiet for a few years ; but in eleven hun- 
dred and eighty-seven, Donal Bane again renewed his pretensions to 
the crown, and raised the standard of revolt in the north. He took 
possession of Ross, and wasted Moray. William lost no time in leading 
an army against him. While the king lay at Inverness with his army, 
a foraging party under the command of Roland, the brave lord of Gal- 
loway, fell in with Donal Bane and his army upon the Mamgarvy moor, 
on the borders of Moray. A conflict ensued, in which Donal and five 
hundred of his followers were killed. Roland carried the head of Do- 
nal to William, " as a savage sign of returning quiet." This happened 
on the fifth of July, eleven hundred and eighty-seven. After this, mat- 
ters remained pretty quiet in the north till the year eleven hundred 
and ninety-six, when Harold, the powerful earl of Orkney and Caith- 
ness, disturbed its peace. William dispersed the insurgents at once ; but 
they again appeared the following year near Inverness, under the com- 
mand of Torphin, the son of Harold. The rebels were again over- 
powered. The king seized Harold, and obliged him to deliver up his 
son, Torphin, as an hostage. Harold was allowed to retain the northern 
part of Caithness, but the king gave the southern part of it, called 
Sutherland, to Hugh Freskin, the progenitor of the earls of Sutherland, 
ilarold died in twelve hundred and six; but as he had often rebelled, his 
son suffered a cruel and lingering death in the castle of Roxburgh, where 
he had been confined. 

During the year twelve hundred and eleven, a new insurrection 
broke out in Ross, headed by Guthred, the son of Donal Bane, or 
M'William, as he was called. Great depredations were committed by 
the insurgents, who were chiefly freebooters from Ireland, the Hebrides, 
and Lochaber. For a long time they baffled the king's troops ; and 
although the king built two forts to keep them in check, and took many 
prisoners, they maintained for a considerable period a desultory and 
predatory warfare. Guthred even forced one of the garrisons to capitu- 
late, and burnt the castle ; but being betrayed by his followers, and de- 
livered up to William Comyng, the Justiciary of Scotland, he was exe- 
cuted in the year twelve hundred and twelve. 

Shortly after the accession of Alexander II. in twelve hundred and 
fourteen, the peace of the north was attempted to be disturbed by Do- 
nald M'William, who made an inroad from Ireland into Moray; but he 
was repulsed by the t ibes of that country, led by M'Intagart, the earl 
of Ross. In twelve hundred and twenty-two, an insurrection broke out 
in Argyle. Notwithstanding the formidable obstacles which presented 
tliomsclves from the nature of the country, Alexander carried his army 


into it, which so alarmed the men of Argyle, that they immediately 
made their submission. Several of the chiefs fled for safety, and to 
punish them, the king distributed their lands among his officers, and 
their followers. 

During the same year a tumult took place in Caithness, on account 
of the severity with which the tithes were exacted. Adam, the bishop, 
after being cruelly scourged, was burnt in his palace of Halkirk. The 
king, who was at the time at Jedburgh, hearing of this horrid murder, 
immediately hastened to the north with a military force, and inflicted 
the punishment of death upon the principal actors in this tragedy, who 
amounted, it is said, to four hundred persons ; and that their race might 
become extinct, their children were emasculated, a practice very com- 
mon in these barbarous times. The earl of Caithness, who was sup- 
posed to have been privy to the murder, was deprived of his estate, 
which was afterwards restored to him on payment of a heavy fine. The 
earl was murdered by his own servants in the year twelve hundred and 
thirty-one, and in order to prevent discovery, they laid his body into his 
bed and set fire to the house. 

In twelve hundred and twenty-eight the country of Moray became the / ^ ^\ 
theatre of a new insurrection, headed by a Ross-shire freebooter, named ^ '^ "^. 
Gillespoc M'Scolane. He committed great devastations by burning 
some wooden castles in Moray, and spoiling the crown lands. He even 
attacked and set fire to Inverness. The king led an army against him, 
but without success. Next year a larger army of horse and foot, under 
the command of John Comyn, earl of Buchan, Justiciary of Scotland, 
was sent against this daring rebel, whom he captured, with his two sons, 
and sent their heads to the king. Chalmers thinks that it was on this 
occasion that the king gave the great district of Badenoch to Walter 
Comyn, the son of the earl of Buchan. 

Angus, the lord of Argyle, who had usually paid homage to the king 
of Norway for some of the Hebrides, having refused his homage to the 
Scottish king, Alexander marched an army against him to enforce obe- 
dience, but his Majesty died on his journey in Kerreray, a small island 
near the coast of Argyle, on the eighth day of July, twelve hundred /y/y / 
and forty-nine, in the fifty-first year of his age, and the thirty -fifth of ■ / 

his reign. / 

According to the custom of the times, his son, Alexander III., then 
a boy only in his eighth year, was seated on the royal chair, or sacred 
stone of Scone, which stood before the cross, in the eastern division of 
the chapel. Immediately before his inauguration, the bishop of St An- 
drews knighted him, by girding him with the belt of knighthood, and 
explained to him, first in Latin and afterwards in Norman French, the 
nature of the compact he and his subjects were about to enter into. 
The crown, after the king had been seated, was placed on his head, and 
the sceptre put into his hand. He was then covered with the royal 
mantle, and received the homage of the nobles on their knees, who, ia 


token of submission, threw their robes beneath his feet. On this occa- 
sion, agreeably to ancient practice, a Gaelic sennachy, or bard, clothed 
in a red mantle, and venerable for his great age and hoary locks, ap- 
proached the king, and in a bended and reverential attitude, recited, 
from memory, in his native language, the genealogy of all the Scottish 
kings, deducing the descent of the youthful monarch from Gathetus, 
the fabulous founder of the nation.* The sennachy, after pronouncing 
his blessing in his native tongue, Beannachdte do Righ Albainn, Alex- 
ander, Mac-Alexander, Mac-William, Mac-David, Mac-Malcom, was 
dismissed with handsome presents. The reign of this prince was dis- 
tinguished by the entire subjugation of the western islands to the power 
of the Scottish crown. The Scandinavian settlers were allowed to leave 
the islands, if inclined, and such of them as remained were bound to 
observe the Scottish laws. 

Shortly after the accession of Alexander III., an insurrection broke 
out against the earl of Ross, of some of the people of that province. 
The earl apprehended their leader or captain, whom he imprisoned at 
Dingwall. In revenge, the Highlanders seized upon the earl's second 
son at Balnagown, took him prisoner, and detained him as an hostage 
till their captain should be released. The Monroes and the Dingwalls 
immediately took up arms, and having pursued the insurgents, overtook 
them at a place called Bealligh-ne-Broig, between Ferrandonald and 
Loch Broom, where a bloody conflict ensued. " The Clan Iver, Clan- 
Talvich, and Clan-Lai we," says Sir Robert Gordon, " wer almost uter- 
lie extinguished and slain." The Monroes and Dingwalls lost a great 
many men. Dingwall of Kildun, and seven score of the surname of 
Dingwall, were killed. No less than eleven Monroes of the house of 
Foulis, who were to succeed one after another, fell, so that the succes- 
sion of Foulis opened to an infant then lying in his cradle. The earl's 
son was rescued, and to requite the service performed, he made various 
grants of lands to the Monroes and Dingwalls.f 

No event of any importance appears to have occurred in the High- 
lands till the time of king Robert Bruce, when he was attacked, after 
S^ /his defeat at Methven, by Stawnrt, lord of Lorn, who defeated his small ^ ^ 
//</^/^army in Strathfillan. But Bruce was determined that S tewa r t should J;^^^^ 

not long enjoy his petty triumph. Having been joined by his able par- /^/'/ 

tizan. Sir James Douglas, he entered the territory of Lorn. On ar- 
riving at the narrow pass of Cruachan Ben, between Loch Awe and 

« Almost the same ceremonial of inauguration was observed at the coronation of Mac- 
donald, king of the Isles. Martin says, tliat '' there was a big stone of seven feet square, 
In which there was a deep impression made to receive the feet of Mack-Donald, for he was 
crowned king of the Isles standing in this stone; and swore tliat he would continue iiis 
vassals in the possession of their lands, and do exact justice to all his subjects ; and then 
his father's sword was put into his hand. The bishop of Argyle and seven priests anoint- 
ed him king, in prisence of all the heads of the tribes in the isles and continent, and were 
his vassals; at which time the orator rehearsed a catalogue of his ancestoi-s." — H'eeteni 
Islands, p. ^11. 

t Gordon's Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland, p. S& 



Loch Etive, Bruce was informed that otii ' w ai t had laid an ambus- 
cade for him. As the pass was dangerous, and might be defended by 
a handful of men against a considerable army, Bruce resolved not to 
enter the pass at first, but to divide his army into two parts. One of 
these divisions, consisting entirely of archers who were lightly armed, 
was placed under the command of Douglas, who was directed to make 
a circuit round the mountain, and to attack the Highlanders in the 
rear. As soon as Douglas had gained possession of the ground above 
the Highlanders, Bruce entered the pass, and, as soon as he had ad- 
vanced into its narrow gorge he was attacked by the men of Lorn, who, 
from the surrounding heights, hurled down stones upon him accompa- 
nied with loud shouts. They then commenced a closer attack, but, be- 
ing instantly assailed in the rear by Douglas* division, and assaulted 
by the king with great fury in front, they were thrown into complete (^ 
disorder, and defeated with great slaughter. Stewart, who was, during /'^x^^.XL^- 
the action, on board a small vessel in Loch Etive, waiting the result, (^^^ /^ 
took refuge in his castle of DunstafFnage. After ravaging the territory '^^^-c 

of Lorn, and giving it up to indiscriminate plunder, Bruce laid siege to 
the castle, which, after a slight resistance, was surrendered by the lord 
of Lorn, who swore homage to the king ; but John, the son of the chief, 
refused to submit, and took refuge in England. 

During the civil wars among the competitors for the Scottish crown, 
and those under Wallace and Bruce for the independence of Scotland, 
the Highlanders scarcely ever appear as participators in those stirring 
scenes which developed the resources, and called forth the chivalry of 
Scotland ; but we are not to infer from the silence of history that they 
were less alive than their southern countrymen to the honour and glory 
of their country, or that they did not contribute to secure its indepen- 
dence. General Stewart says that eighteen Highland chiefs* fought 
under Robert Bruce at Bannockburn ; and as tliese chiefs would be ac- 
companied by their vassals, it is fair to suppose that Highland prowess 
lended its powerful aid to obtain that memorable victory which secured 
Scotland from the dominion of a foreign yoke. 

After Robert Bruce had asserted the independence of his country by 
the decisive battle of Bannockburn, the whole kingdom, with the ex- 
ception of some of the western islands, under Jolin of Argyle, the ally 
of England, submitted to his authority. He, therefore, undertook an ex- 
pedition against those isles, in which he was accompanied by Walter, the 
hereditary high-steward of Scotland, his son-in-law, who, by his mar- 
riage with Marjory, King Robert's daughter, laid the foundation of the 
Stewart dynasty. To avoid the necessity of doubling the Mull of Kin- 

♦ The chiefs at Bannockburn were M'Kay, Mackintosh, Macpherson, Cameron, Sin- 
clair, Campliell, Menzies, Maclean, Sutherland, Robeilson, Grant, Fraser, Macfar- 
lane, Ross, Macgrogor, Munro, Mackenzie, and Macquarrie. After the hipse of five 
hundred years since the battle of Bannockburn was fought, it is truly astonishing to find 
such a number of direct descendants who are now in existence, and still possessed of their 
paternal estates. 


tyre, which was a dangerous attempt for the small vessels then in use, 
Robert sailed up Loch-Fine to Tarbet with his fleet, which he dragged 
across the narrow isthmus between the lochs of East and West Tarbet, 
by means of a slide of smooth planks of trees laid parallel to each other. 
It had long been a superstitious belief amongst the inhabitants of the 
Western Islands, that they should never be subdued till their invader 
sailed across this neck of land, and it is said that Robert was thereby 
partly induced to follow the course he did to impress upon the minds of 
the islanders a conviction that the time of their subjugation had arrived. 
The islanders were quickly subdued, and John of Lorn, who, for his 
services to Edward of England, had been invested with the title of Ad- 
miral of the Western fleet of England, was captured and imprisoned first 
in Dumbarton castle, and afterwards in the castle of Lochleven, where 
he died. 

The feeble and effeminate reign of David II. was disturbed by an- 
other revolt by the lord of the Isles, who was backed in his attempt 
to throw off his dependence by a great number of the Highland chiefs. 
David, with " an unwonted energy of character, commanded the at- 
tendance of the steward, with the prelates and barons of the realm, and 
surrounded by this formidable body of vassals and retainers, proceede(J 
against the rebels in person. The expedition was completely successfiiL 
The rebel prince, John of the Isles, with a numerous train of those 
wild Highland chieftains who followed his banner, and had supported 
him in his attempt to throw off* his dependence, met the king at In- 
verness, and submitted to his authority. He engaged in the most so- 
lemn manner, for himself and his vassals, that they should yield them- 
selves faithful and obedient subjects to David, their liege lord; and 
not only give due and prompt obedience to the ministers and officers of 
the king in suit and service, as well as in the payment of taxes and pub- 
lie burdens, but that they would coerce and put down all others, of 
whatever rank or degree, who dared to raise themselves in opposition 
to the royal authority, and would compel them either to submit, or 
would pursue and banish them from their territories : for the fulfilment 
of which obligation the lord of the Isles not only gave his own oath, 
under the penalty of forfeiting his whole principality if it was broken, 
but offered the high-steward, his father-in-law, as his security, and de- 
livered his lawful son, Donald, his grandson, Angus, and his natural son, 
also named Donald, as hostages for the strict performance of the articles 
of the treaty."* The deed by which John of the Isles bound himself to 
the performance of these stipulations is dated fifteenth November, thir- 
teen hundred and sixty-nine.f 

To enable him the better to succeed in reducing the inhabitants of 
the Highlands and islands to the obedience of the laws, it is stated by 

• Tytler*8 Hist, of Scotland, vol. ii. 185. Robertson's Parliamentary Records, p. 11.5, 
t Vide the Deed printed in the Appendix to Mr Tytler's History, vol. iL 


;in old historian,* that David used artifice by dividing the chieFs, and 
promising high rewards to those who should slay or capture their bro- 
ther chiefs. The writer says that this diabolical plan, by implanting 
the seeds of disunion and war amongst the chiefs, succeeded ; and that 
they gradually destroyed one another, a statement, to say the least of 
it, highly improbable. Certain it is, however, that it was in this reign 
that the practice of paying manrent began, when the powerful wished 
for followers, and the weak wanted protection, a circumstance wliich 
shows that the government was too weak to afford protection to the op- 
pressed, or to quell the disputes of rival clans. 

In the year thirteen hundred and thirty-threef John Monroe, the tu- 
tor of Foulis, in travelling homeward, on his journey from Edinburgh 
to Ross, stopped on a meadow in Stratherdale that he and his servants 
might get some repose. While they were asleep, the owner of the 
meadow cut off the tails of their horses. Being resolved to wipe olf 
this insult, he, immediately on his return home to Ross, summoned his 
whole kinsmen and followers, and, after informing them how he had 
been used, craved their aid to revenge the injury. The cfen, of course, 
complied ; and, having selected three hundred and fifty of the best and 
ablest men among them, he returned to Stratherdale, which he wasted 
and spoiled; killed some of the inhabitants, and carried off their cattle. 
In passing by the isle of Moy, on his return home, Macintosh, the chief 
of the clan Chattan, being urged by some person who bore Monroe a 
grudge, sent a message to him demanding a share of the spoil. This 
was customary among the Highlanders when a party drove cattle whicli 
had been so taken through a gentleman's land, and the part so exacted 
was called a Staoig Rathaid, or Staoig Creich, that is, a Road Collop. 
Monroe, not being disposed to quarrel, offered Macintosh a reasonable 
share, but this he was advised not to accept, and demanded the half of 
the booty. Monroe refused to comply with such an unreasonable de- 
mand, and proceeded on his journey. Macintosh, determined to en- 
force compliance, immediately collected his clansmen, and went in pur- 
suit of Monroe, whom he overtook at Clach-na-Haire, near Inverness. 
As soon as Monroe saw Macintosh approaching, he sent home live of 
his men to Ferrindonald with the cattle, and prepared for action. But 
Macintosh paid dearly for his rapacity and rashness, for he and the 
greater part of his men were killed in the conflict. Several of the Mon- 
roes also were slain, and John Monroe himself was left for dead in the 
field of battle, and might have died if the predecessor of Lord Lovat 
had not carried him to his house in the neighbourhood, where he was 
cured of his wounds. One of his hands was so mutilated, that he lost 
the use of it the remainder of his life, on which account he was after- 

* Fordun a Goodal, vol. li. 380. 

t Tliisisthe date assigned by Sir Robert Gordon, but Shaw makes i* more tlian a ct.-n- 
tiiiy later, viz., in 1154. 

I. U 



ward^ called John Bac-laimh, or Ciotach.* The Monroes had great 
advantage of the ground by takirg up a position among rocks, from 
which they annoyed the Mackintoshes with their arrows. 

Besides the feuds of the clans in the reign of David II. the Highlands 
appear to have been disturbed by a formidable insurrection against the 
government, for, in a parliament which was held at Scone, in the year 
thirteen hundred and sixty-six, a resolution vvas entered into to seize 
the rebels in Argyle, Athole, Badenoch, Lochaber and Ross, and all 
others who had risen up against the royal authority, and to compel 
them to submit to the laws. The chief leaders in this commotion 
(of which the bare mention in the parliamentary record is the only 
account which has reached us) were the Earl of Ross, Hugh de 
Ross, John of the Isles, John of Lorn, and John de Haye, who 
were all summoned to attend the parliament and give in their submis- 
sion, but they all refused to do so in the most decided manner ; and 
as the government was too weak to compel them, they were suffered to 
remain independent. 

In the year thirteen hundred and eighty-six a feud having taken place 
between the clan Chattan and the Camerons, a battle took place in which 
a great number of the clan Chattan were killed, and the Camerons were 
nearly cut off to a man. The occasion of the quarrel was this. The 
lands of Mackintosh-]- in Lochaber, were possessed by the Camerons, who 
were so tardy in the payment of their rents that Mackintosh was fre- 
quently obliged to levy them by force by carrying off his tenants' cattle. 
The Camerons were so irritated at having their cattle poinded and 
taken away, that they resolved to make reprisals, preparatory to which 
they marched into Badenoch to the number of about four hundred 
men, under the command of Charles Macgilony. As soon as Mackin- 
tosh became acquainted with this movement he called his clan and 
friends, the Macphersons and Davidsons, together. His force was su- 
perior to that of the Camerons, but a dispute arose among the chiefs 
which almost proved fatal to them. To Mackintosh, as captain of the clan 

* Sir R. Gordon, p. 47- — Shaw, p. 264. 

+ According to that eminent antiquary, the Reverend Donald Macintosh, non-juring 
episcopal clergyman, in his historical illustrations of his Collections of Gaelic Proverbs, 
published in 1785, the ancestor of Mackintosh became head of the clan Chattan in this 
way. During these contests for the Scottish crown, which succeeded the death of 
King Alexander III., and favoured the pretensions of the King of the Isles, the latter 
styling himself *' King," had, in 1291, sent his nephew Angus Macintosh of Macintosh 
to Dougall Dall (Blind) MacGillichattan, chief of the clan Chaitan, or Macphersons, 
to acquaint him that •' the King'' was to pay him a visit. Macpherson, or MacGilli- 
chaitan, as he was named, in honour of tlie founder of the family Gillichattan* Mor, 
having an only child, a daughter, who, he dreaded might attract an inconvenient de- 
gree of royal notice, offered her in marriage to Macintosh along with his lands, and tho 
station of the chief of the clan Chattan. Macintosh accepted the otTer, and was received 
as chief of tho lady's clan. 

♦ " A votary or servant of S» Kattan," a most poptilar Scottish saint We have thus GiUichallum . 
meaniug a " votary of Coluinba," and of which another form Is Malcolm or Molcalm, the prefix M< I, 
boing corrupted into Mai, signifying the same as Gillt/. Tlius GWy.Dhia is the etymon of Culdee, 
Ki^oifying •• servaut of God,"— GiWi.cAm/ lueans " servant of Ciirist" 


Cbattan, the command of the centre of the army was assigned with the 
CO sent of all parties ; but a difference took place between Cluny and 
Invernahavon, each claiming the command of the right wing. Cluny 
demanded it as the chief of the ancient clan Chattan, of which the Da- 
vidsons of Invernahavon were only a branch ; but Invernahavon con- 
tended, that to him, as the oldest branch, the command of the right 
wing, belonged according to the custom of the clans. The Camerons 
came up during this quarrel about precedency, on which Mackintosh, as 
umpire, decided against the claim of Cluny. This was a most impru- 
dent award, as the Macphersons exceeded both the Mackintoshes and 
Davidsons in numbers, and they were, besides, in the country of the 
Macphersons. These last were so offended at the decision of Mackintosh, 
that they withdrew from the field, and became, for a time, spectators of 
the action. The battle soon commenced, and was fought with great 
obstinacy. Many of the Mackintoshes, and almost all the Davidsons, 
were cut off by the superior number of the Camerons. The Macphersons 
seeing their friends and neighbours almost overpowered, could no longer 
restrain themselves, and friendship got the better of their wounded pride.* 
They, therefore, at tiiis perilous crisis, rushed in upon the Camerons, 
who, from exhaustion and the loss they had sustained, were easily de- 
feated. The few that escaped, with their leader, were pursued from 
Invernahavon, the place of battle, three miles above Ruthven, in Badc- 
noch. Charles Macgilony was killed on a hill in Glenbenchir, which 
was long called Torr-Thearlaich, i. e. Charles'-hill.-j- 

In the opinion of Shaw, this quarrel about precedency was the origin 
of the celebrated judicial conflict, which took place on the North Inch 
of Perth, before Robert III., his queen, Annabella Drummond, and the 
Scottish nobility, and some foreigners of distinction, in the year one 
thousand three hundred and ninety-six, and of which a variety of ac- 
counts have been given by our ancient historians. The parties to this 
combat were the Macphersons, properly the clan Chattan, and the David- 
sons of Invernahavon, called in the Gaelic Clann-Dhaibhidhy and com- 
monly pronounced Claim- Chai, The Davidsons were not, as some writers 
have supposed, a separate clan, but a branch of the clan Chattan. These 
rival tribes had for a long period kept up a deadly enmity at one another, 
which was difficult to be restrained ; but afler the award by Mackintosh 
against the Macphersons, that enmity broke out into open strife, and for 
ten years the Macphersons and the Davidsons carried on a war of ex- 
termination and kept the country in an uproar. 

To put an end to these disorders, Robert III. sent Dunbar earl of 

♦ The Reverend Donald Mackintosh gives a different account of this matter. 
He says that Macintosh, irritated at Cluny's conduct, despatched to Ciuny's camp a 
minstrel, who was instructed to feign he had been sent by the Camerons, and, to sing a 
few Gaelic lines reflecting on the cowardice of those who had hung aloof in the hour of 
danger. Cluny, stung by the satire, attacked the supposed authoi*s that night ia their 
camp, and put them to flight with the loss of their chieC 

t Shaw's History of Moray, p. 260, 261. 


Moray, and Lindsay of Glenesk, afterwards earl of Crawfurd, two oftlie 
leading men of the kingdom, to endeavour to effect an amicable arrange- 
ment between the contending parties ; but having failed in their attempt, 
they proposed that the differences should be decided in open combat 
before the king. " The ideas of chivalry, the factitious principles of 
that singular system of manners from which we derive our modern code 
of honour, had hitherto made little progress amongst them (the High- 
landers ;) but the more intimate intercourse between the northern and 
southern portions of the kingdom, and the residence of the lowland 
barons amongst them, appear to have introduced a change ; and the 
notions of the Norman knights becoming more familiar to the fierce 
mountaineers, they adopted the singular idea of deciding their quarrel 
by a combat of thirty against thirty. This project, instead of discour- 
agement, met with the warm approval of government, who were happy 
that a scheme should have suggested itself, by which there was some 
prospect of the leaders in those fierce and endless disputes being cut 
off."* A precedent had occurred in Robert the First's time, when Hugh 
Hardinge fought William de Saintlowe, on the North Inch of Perth, 
in the royal presence. The same ground was now fixed on, and the 
Monday before Michaelmas was the day appointed for the combat. Ac- 
cording to Sir Robert Gordon, who is followed by Sir Robert Douglas 
and Mr Mackintosh, it was agreed that no weapon but the broad sword 
was to be employed, but Wyntoun, who lived about the time, adds bows, 
battle-axes, and daggers. 

" All thai entrit in Barreris, 
With Bow and Axe, Knyf and Swerd, 
To deal amang tliem thair last Werd." 

The chronicler is borne out by Bower, in regard to the bow at least. 
The numbers on each side have been variously reported. By mistaking 
the word tricenU used by Boece and Buchanan for treceni, some writers 
have multiplied them to three hundred. Bower, the continuator of 
Fordun and Wyntoun, however, mention expressly sixty in all, or thirty 
on either side. 

On the appointed day the combatants made their appearance on the 
North Inch of Perth, to decide in presence of the king, his queen, and a 
large concourse of the nobility, their respective claims to superiority. 
Barriers had been erected on the ground to prevent the spectators 
from encroaching, and the king and his party took their stations upon a 
platform from which they could easily view the combat. At length the 
warriors, armed with sword and target, bows and arrows, short knives 
and battle-axes, advanced within the barriers, and eyed one another with 
looks of deadly revenge. When about to engage, a circumstance oc- 
curred which postponed the battle, and had well-nigh prevented it alto- 
gether. According to some accounts, one of the Macphersons fell sick ; 

« Tytler, vol. iii. 76, T7. 


but Bower says, that when the troops had been marshalled, one of the 
Macphersons, panic-struck, slipped through the crowd, plunged into the 
Tay and swam across, and, though pursued by thousands, effected his 
escape.* Sir Robert Gordon merely observes, that, " at their entrie into 
the teild, the clan Chattan lacked one of their number, who wes privilie 
stolne away, not willing to be pertaker of so deir a bargane." A man 
being now wanting on one side, a pause ensued, and a proposal was made 
that one of the Davidsons should retire, that the number on both sides 
might be equal, but they refused. As the combat could not proceed 
from this inequality of numbers, the king was about to break up the 
assembly, when a diminutive and crooked, but fierce man, named Henry 
Wynd, a Burgher of Perth, a foundling reared in the hospital of the 
burgh, and an armourer by trade, sprung within the barriers, and, as 
related by Bower, thus addressed the assembly : " Here am I. Will 
any one fee me to engage with these hirelings in this stage play ? For 
half a mark will I try the game, provided, if I escape alive, I have my 
board of one of you so long as I live. Greater love, as it is said, hath 
no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. What 
then shall be my reward, who stake my life for the foes of the common- 
wealth and realme." This demand of Gow Crom, " Crooked Smith," 
as Henry was familiarly styled, adds Bower, was granted by the king 
and nobles. A murderous conflict now began. The armourer bending 
his bow, an J sending the first arrow among the opposite party, killed 
one of them. After showers of arrows had been discharged on both 
sides, the combatants with fury in their looks and revenge in their hearts, 
rushed upon one another, and a terrific scene ensued which appalled the 
heart of many a valorous knight who witnessed the bloody tragedy. 
The violent thrusts of the daggers, and the tremendous gashes inflicted 
by the two-handed swords and battle-axes, hastened the work of butchery 
and death. " Heads were cloven asunder, limbs were lopped from the 
trunk. The meadow was soon flooded with blood, and covered with 
dead and wounded men."f 

After the crooked armourer had killed his man, as already related from 
Bower, it is said that he either sat down or drew aside, which being ob- 
served by the leader of Cluny's band, he asked his reason for thus stop- 
ping ; on which Wynd said, " Because I have fulfilled my bargain, and 
earned my wages." — " The man," exclaimed the other, " who keeps no 
reckoning of his good deeds, without reckoning shall be repaid," an ob- 
servation which tempted the armourer to earn, in the multiplied deaths 
of his opponents, a sum exceeding by as many times the original atipu- 

* Lesley, [\si. edition, p. 252.) sa)'s that the fugitive in question belonged to the clan 
Kay, His words are, " Anno imperii sui (Roberti Illtii.) quinto, maximne in Scoiiii 
herbse a duabus Sylvestrium familiis clankaya, et clanquhattana, ciebantur, &c. . ... 
Tempus prrefmitur, locus insulor apud Perthum figitur, hostes in palcstram descen- 
dunt. Sed cum ex Clankaya tribu unus timore perculsus se clanculuin subducebat, a 
pugna tantis per abstinetur duni aliquis cognatus fugitur locum subiret." 
f Tales of a Grandfather, vol. W. 


lation. This speech of the leader has been formed into the Gaelic 

•' Am fear nach cunntadh rium 
Cha chunntainn ris," 

which Mackintosh thus renders, 

" The man that reckons not with me 
I will not reckon with him," 

Victory at last declared for the Macphersons, but not until twenty- 
nine of the Davidsons had fallen prostrate in the arms of death. Nine- 
teen of Gluny's men also bit the dust, and the remaining eleven, with 
the exception of Henry Wynd, who by his excellence as a swordsman 
had mainly contributed to gain the day, were all grievously wounded. 
The survivor of the clan Kay escaped unhurt. Mackintosh, following 
Buchanan, relates, that this man, after all his companions had fallen, threw 
himself into the Tay, and making the opposite bank, escaped ; but this 
is an improbable story, and is most likely a new version of Bower's ac- 
count of the affrighted champion before the commencement of the action, 
which seems to have been metamorphosed by the genius of fiction into a 
concluding embellishment. 

The leader of the clan Kay or Davidsons, is called by Bower Schea- 
beg, and by Wyntoun, Scha-Ferquharis son. Boetius, who superintended 
the press in the first edition of his work, calls him Stratherge. These 
three authors agree in calling the leader of the opposite force Christi- 
Jonson, for Boece does not differ from the others, except by using the 
Gaelic form of Jonson, viz. Mac-Iain. " Shaw Macintosh" as Sir Robert 
Douglas styles him, or Shaw Oig, as he is also called by Sir Robert, is, 
by this genealogist, stated to have been uncle of Lachlan Mackintosh, 
captain of the Clan Chattan, in right of his paternal grandmother, and to 
have commanded the Clan Chattan. But are we to believe Sir Robert in 
opposition to the united testimony of Wyntoun, Bower, and Boetius? 
Who Christi- Mac- Iain, or Christi-Jonson was genealogically, we are not' 
informed, but one thing is pretty clear, that he, not Schea-beg, or Shaw 
Oig, for these are obviously one and the same, commanded the ClanChat- 
tan, or *' Clann-a-ChaiV Both the principals seem to have been absent 
or spectators merely of the battle, and as few of the leading men of the 
clan, it is believed, were parties in the combat, the savage policy of the 
government, which, it is said, had taken this method to rid itself of the 
chief men of the clan, by making them destroy one another, was com- 
pletely defeated. This affair seems to have produced a good effect, as 
the Highlanders remained quiet for a considerable time thereafter. 

The disorders in the Highlands occasioned by the feuds of the clans, 
were, about the period in question, greatly augmented by Alexander of 
Badenoch, fourth son of Robert H., whom he had constituted Lieutenant 
or governor from the limits of Moray to the Pentland Firth. This per- 
son, from the ferocity of his disposition, obtained the appropriate appel- 
lation of "the Wolf of Badenoch." Avaricious, as well as cruel, tlie 


Wolf seized upon the lands of Alexander Barr, bishop of Moray, and as 
he persisted in keeping violent possession of them, he was excommuni- 
cated. The sentence of excommunication not only proved unavailing, 
but tended to exasperate the lord of Badenoch to such a degree of fury, 
that, in the month of May thirteen hundred and ninety, he descended 
from his heights, and burnt the town of Forres, with the choir of the 
church, and the manse of the archdeacon. And in June following, he 
burnt the town of Elgin, the church of St Giles, the hospital of Maison- 
Dieu, and t)ie cathedral, with eighteen houses of the canons and chap- 
lains in the college of Elgin. He also plundered these churches of their 
sacred utensils and vestments, which he carried off. For this horrible 
sacrilege the Lord of Badenoch was prosecuted, and obliged to make 
due reparation. Upon making his submission he was absolved by 
Walter Trail, bishop of St Andrews, in the church of the Black friars in 
Perth. He was first received at the door, and afterwards before the 
high altar, in presence of the king, (Robert HI. his brother,) and many 
of the nobility, on condition that he should make full satisfaction to the 
bishop of Moray, and obtain absolution from the pope.* 

The lord of Badenoch had a natural son, named Duncan Stewart, 
who inherited the vices of his father. Bent upon spoliation and blood- 
shed, and resolved to imitate the barbarous exploits which his father 
had just been engaged in, he collected a vast number of Catherans, 
armed only with the sword and target, and with these he descended 
from the range of hills which divides the county of Aberdeen and For- 
far, devastated the country, and murdered the inhabitants indiscri- 
minately. A force was instantly collected by Sir Walter Ogilvy, sheriif of 
Angus, Sir Patrick Gray, and Sir David Lindsay of Glenesk, to oppose 
him, and although inferior in numbers, they attacked Stewart and his 
party of freebooters at Gasklune, near the water of Ila. A desperate 
conflict took place, which was of short duration. The Catherans fought 
with determined bravery, and soon overpowered their assailants. The 
sheriff, his brother, Wat of Lichtoune, Young of Ouchterlony, the 
lairds of Cairncross, Forfar, and Guthry, and sixty of their followers, 
were slain. Sir Patrick Gray and Sir David Lindsay were severely 
wounded, and escaped with difficulty. Winton has preserved an anec- 
dote illustrative of the fierceness of the Highlanders. Lindsay had run 
one of them, a strong and brawny man, through the body with a spear, 
and brought him to the earth; but although in the agonies of death, he 
writhed himself up, and with the spear sticking in his body, struck 
Lindsay a desperate blow with his sword, which cut him through the 
stirrup and boot into the bone, on which he instantly fell and expired.f 

Following chronological ey.actness, the following occurrence should 
have been previously related, had not a necessary connexion existed be- 
tween the history of the battle on the North Inch of Perth, and the ac- 

• Shaw's Moray, p. 3^-15.— Winton, vol. ii. 363— Keith's Catalogue, p. 83. 
t Winton, vol. ii. 369. 




count which precedes it. NicnlfW) Earl of Sutherland, had a feud with 
Y-Mackay of Far, in Strathnaver, Chief of the Clanwig-worgm, and 
his son Donald Mackay, in which many lives were lost, and great depre- 
dations committed on both sides. In order to put an end to this differ- 
ence, the Earl proposed a meeting of the parties at Dingwall, to be held in 
presence of the Lord of the Isles, his father-in-law, and some of the 
neighbouring gentry, the friends of the two families. The meeting hav- 
ing been agreed to, the parties met at the appointed time, and took up 
their residence in the Castle of Dingwall in apartments allotted for them. 
A discussion then took place between the Earl and Mackay, regarding 
the points in controversy, in which high and reproachful words were ex- 
changed, which so incensed the Earl, that he killed Mackay and his son 
with his own hands. Having with some difficulty effected his escape 
from the followers and servants of the Mackays, he immediately return- 
ed home and prepared for defence, but the Mackays were too weak to 
take revenge. This event took place in the year thirteen hundred and 
I f^ /} ^ ninety-five. The matter^ was in some degree reconciled between Robert, 
the successor of Nic e l ft G , and Angus Mackay, the eldest son of Donald.* 
Some years after this event a serious conflict took place between the 
inhabitants of Sutherland and Strathnaver, and Malcolm Macleod of 
the Lewis, which arose out of the following, circumstances. Angus 
Mackay above mentioned, had married a sister of Malcolm Macleod, by 
whom he had two sons, Angus Dow, and Roriegald. On the death of 
Angus, Houcheondow Mackay, a younger brother, became tutor to his 
nephews, and entered upon the management of their lands. Malcolm 
Macleod, understanding that his sister, the widow of Angus, was ill treat- 
ed by Houchoondow, went on a visit to her, accompanied by a number 
of the choicest men of his country, with the determination of vindicating 
her cause either by entreaty or by force. He appears not to have suc- 
ceeded in his object, for he returned homeward greatly discontented, and 
in revenge laid waste Strathnaver and a great part of the Breachat in 
Sutherland, and carried off booty along with him. As soon as Houcheon 
Dow and his brother Neill Mackay learnt this intelligence, they ac- 
quainted Robert, Earl of Sutherland, between whom and Angus Mackay 
a reconciliation had been effected, who immediately despatched Alex- 
ander Ne-Shrem-Gorme (Alexander Murray of Cubin,) with a number 
of stout and resolute men, to assist the Mackays. They followed 
Macleod with great haste, and overtook him at Tuttini-Turwigh, upon the 
marches between Ross and Sutherland. The pursuing party at first at- 
tempted to recover the goods and cattle which had been carried off, but 
this being opposed by Macleod and his men, a desperate conflict ensued, 
in which great valour was displayed on both sides. It " was long, 
furious, cru(;l, and doubtful," says Sir Robert Gordon, and was " rather 
desperate than resolute," as the same author quaintly observes. At 

• Sir Hubert Gordon's History, p. 60. 


last the Lewismen, with their commander, Malcolm Macleod, nick-named 
Gilealm Beg M'Bowen, were slain, and the goods and cattle were re- 
covered. One man alone of Macleod's party, who was sorely wounded, 
escaped to bring home the sorrowful news to the Lewis, which he had 
scarcely delivered when he expired.* 

These feuds were followed by a formidable insurrection in fourteen 
hundred and eleven by Donald, Lord of the Isles, of such a serious na- 
ture as to threaten a dismemberment of the kingdom of Scotland. The 
origin of this rebellion arose out of the following circumstances. The 
male succession to the Earldom of Ross having become extinct, the 
honours of the Peerage devolved upon a female, Euphemia Ross, wife of 
Sir Walter Lesley. Of this marriage there were two children, Alexander, 
afterwards Earl of Ross, and Margaret afterwards married to the Lord 
of the Isles. Earl Alexander married a daughter of the Duke of Albany. 
Euphemia, Countess of Ross, was the only issue of this marriage, but be- 
coming a nun she resigned the earldom of Ross in favour of her uncle 
John Stewart, Earl of Buchan. The Lord of the Isles conceiving that 
the Countess, by renouncing the world, had forfeited her title and estate, 
and, moreover, that she had no right to dispose thereof, claimed both in 
right of Margaret his wife. The duke of Albany, governor of Scotland, 
at whose instigation the Countess had made the renunciation, of course 
refused to sustain the claim of the prince of the islands. The Lord of 
the Isles then raised the standard of revolt ; and having formed an alliance 
with England, from whence he was to be supplied with a fleet far superior 
to the Scottish, he, at the head of an army of ten thousand men, fully 
equipped and armed after the fashion of the islands with bows and arrows, 
pole-axes, knives, and swords, burst like a torrent upon the Earldom, 
and carried every thing before him. He, however, received a tem- 
porary check at Dingwall, where he was attacked with great impetuosity 
by Angus Dubh Mackay of Farr, or Black Angus, as he was called, but 
Angus was taken prisoner, and his brother Roderic Gald and many o£ 
his men were killed. 

Flushed with the progress he had made, Donald now resolved to carry 
into execution a threat he had often made to burn the town of Aberdeen. 
For this purpose he ordered his army to assemble at Inverness, and sum- 
moned all the men capable of bearing arms in the Boyne, and the Enzie, to 
join his standard on his way south. This order being complied with, the 
Lord of the Isles marched through Moray without opposition. He com- 
mitted great excesses in Strathbogie and in the district of Garioch, which 
belonged to the earl of Mar. The inhabitants of Aberdeen were in 
dreadful alarm at the near approach of this marauder and his fierce 
hordes ; but their fears were allayed by the speedy appearance of a well 
equipped army, commanded by the earl of Mar, who bore a high mili- 
tary character, assisted by many brave knights and gentlemen in Angus 

♦ Sir Robert Gordon, p. 61, C2. '■ 

X. X 


and the Mearns. Among these were Sir Alexander Ogilvy, sheriff of 
Angus, Sir James Scrymgeour, constable of Dundee and hereditary 
standard bearer of Scotland, Sir William de Abernethy of Salton, 
nephew to the duke of Albany, Sir Robert Maule of Panmure, Sir 
Alexander Irvine of Drum, and Sir Robert Melville. The Earl was 
also joined by Sir Robert Davidson, the Provost of Aberdeen, and a party 
of the burgesses. 

Advancing from Aberdeen, Mar marched by Inverury, and descried 
the Highlanders stationed at the village of Harlaw, on the water of 
Ury near its junction with the Don. Mar soon saw that he had to con- 
tend with tremendous odds, but although his forces were, it is said, as one 
to ten to that opposed to him, he resolved, from the confidence he had in 
his steel-clad knights, to risk a battle. Having placed a small but select 
body of knights and men-at-arms in front, under the command of the 
constable of Dundee and the sheriff of Angus, the Earl drew up the 
main strength of his army in the rear, including the Murrays, the Straitons, 
the Maules, the Irvings, the Lesleys, the Lovels, the Stirlings, headed 
by their respective chiefs. The Earl then placed himself at the head of 
this body. At the head of the Islesmen and Highlanders was the Lord 
of the Isles, subordinate to whom were Mackintosh and Maclean and 
other Highland chiefs, all bearing the most deadly hatred to their Saxon 
foes, and panting for revenge. 

On a signal being given, the Highlanders and Islesmen, setting up those 
terrific shouts and yells which they were accustomed to raise on entering 
into battle, rushed forward upon their opponents ; but they were received 
with great firmness and bravery by the knights, who, with their spears 
levelled, and battle axes raised, cut down many of their impetuous but 
badly armed adversaries. After the Lowlanders had recovered them- 
selves from the shock which the furious onset of the Highlanders had 
produced, Sir James Scrymgeour, at the head of the knights and ban- 
nerets who fought under him, cut his way through the thick columns of 
the Islesmen, carrying death every where around him; but the slaughter 
of hundreds by this brave party did not intimidate the Highlanders, who 
kept pouring in by thousands to supply the place of those who had fallen. 
Surrounded on all sides, no alternative remained for Sir James and his 
valorous companions but victory or death, and the latter was their lot. 
The constable of Dundee was amongst the first who suffered, and his 
fall so encouraged the Highlanders, that seizing and stabbing the horses, 
they thus unhorsed their riders whom they despatched with their dag- 
gers. In the mean time the earl of Mar, who had penetrated with his 
main army into the very heart of the enemy, kept up the unequal con- 
test with great bravery, and, although he lost during the action almost 
the whole of his army, he continued the fatal struggle with a handful of 
men till nightfall. The disastrous result of this battle was one of the 
greatest misfortunes which had ever happened to the numerous respec- 
table families in AnEus and the Mearns. Many of these families lost 


I hi I 


not only their head, but every male in the house. Lesley of Balquhain 
IS said to have fallen v/ith six of his sons. Besides Sir James Scrj-m- 
geour, Sir Alexander Ogilvy the sheriff of Angus, with his eldest son 
George Ogilvy, Sir Thomas Murray, Sir Robert Maule of Panmure, 
Sir Alexander Irving of Drum,* Sir William Abernethy of Salton, Sir 
Alexander Straiton of Lauriston, James Lovel, and Alexander Stirling, 
and Sir Robert Davidson, Provost of Aberdeen, with five hundred men- 
at-arms including the principal gentry of Buchan, and the greater part 
of the burgesses of Aberdeen who followed their Provost, were among 
the slain. The Highlanders left nine hundred men dead on the field of 
battle, including the chiefs, Maclean and Mackintosh. This memorable 
battlef was fought on the eve of the feast of JSt James the Apostle, the 
twenty-fourth day of July, in the year fourteen hundred and eleven, 
" and from the ferocity with which it was contested, and the dismal 
spectacle of civil war and bloodshed exhibited to the country, it appears 
to have made a deep impression on the national mind. It fixed itself in 
the music and the poetry of Scotland ; a march, called the Battle of Har- 
law, continued to be a popular air down to the time of Drummond of 
Hawthornden, and a spirited ballad, on the same event, is still repeated 
in our age, describing the meeting of tl\e armies, and the deaths of the 
chiefs, in no ignoble strain.":}: 

Mar and the few brave companions in arms, who survived the battle, 
were so exhausted with fatigue and the wounds they received, that they 
were obliged to pass the night on the field of battle, where they expected 

• The Laird of Maclean according to a tradition in the family of Irving of Drum, was 
killed by Sir Alexander Irving. Genealogical collections, MS. Advocates' Library, 
Jac. V. 4. 16. Vol. I. p. 180. 

+ The site of the battle is thus described in the manuscript geographical description of 
Scotland, collected by Macfarlane and preserved in the Advocates' Library, Vol. I. p. 7. 
" Through this parish (the cliapel of Garioch formerly called Capella Beatse Maria 
Virginis de Garryoch, Chart, Aberdon, p. 31.) runs the king's high way from Aberdeen 
to Inverness, and from Aberdeen to the high country. A large mile to the east of the 
church lies the field of an ancient battle called the battle of Harlaw, from a country town 
of that name hard by. This town, and the field of battle, wlu'ch lies along the king's 
highway upon a moor, extending a short mile from S. E. to N. W. siands on the north- 
east side of the water of Urie, and a small distance therefrom. To the west of the field 
of battle, about half a mile, is a farmer's house, called Legget's Den, hard by, in which 
is a tomb, built iu the form of a malt steep, of four large stones, covered with a broad 
stone above, where, as the country people generally report, Donald of the Isles lies buried, 
being slain in the battle, and therefore they call it commonly Donald's tomb." This is 
an evident mistake, as it is well kiiown that Donald was not slain. Mr Tytler conjec- 
tures with much probability that the tomb alluded to may be that of the chief of Maclean 
or Mackintosh, and he refers, in support of this opinion, to Macfarlane's genealogical col- 
lections (MS. Advocates' Library. Jac. V. 4.16. Vol. I. p. 180.) in which an account is 
given of the family of Maclean, and from which it appears that Lauchkin Lubanich had, 
by Macdonald's daughter, a son, called Eachin Ilusidh ni Cath, or Hector Rufus Belli- 
cosus, who commanded as lieutenant-general under the earl of Ross at the battle of Har- 
law, when he and Irving of Drum, seeking out one another by their armorial bearings on 
tlieir shields, met and killed each other. Tliis Hector was married to a daughter of tlie 
euri of Duuglas. 

X TyUer, vol. III. 177. 


a renewal of the attack next morning ; but when morning dawned, they 
found that the Lord of the Isles had retreated, during the night, by 
Inverury and the hill of Benochie. To pursue him was impossible, and 
he was therefore allowed to retire, without molestation, and to recruit 
his exhausted strength. 

As soon as the news of the disaster at Harlaw reached the ears of 
the duke of Albany, then regent of Scotland, he set about collecting an 
jirmy, with which he marched in person to the North, in autumn, with 
a determination to bring the Lord of the Isles to obedience. Having 
taken possession of the castle of Dingwall, he appointed a governor, and 
from thence proceeded to recover the whole of Ross. Donald retreated 
before him, and took up 14s winter-quarters in tho islands. Hostilities 
were renewed next summer, but the contest was not long or doubtful 
— notwithstanding some little advantages obtained by the King of the 
Isles — for he was compelled to give up his claim to the earldom of 
Ross, to become a vassal to the Scottish crown, and to deliver hostages 
to secure his future good behaviour. A treaty to this effect was entered 
into at Pilgilbe or Polgillip, the modern Loch-Gillip in Argyle. 


State of the Highlands at the Accession of James I. —Disturbances in Caithness — Eattle 
of Harpisdell — Arrival of the King at Inverness — Summons the Chiefs to appear 
— their Seizure and Fate — Revolt of Alexander, Prince of the Isles — Rapid Movement 
of the King — Alexander surrenders himself and is imprisoned — Insurrection of Donald 
Bailoch — Murder of Mowat of Freshwick by Thomas Macneill — his Apprehension 
and Execution — Battle of Drum-ne-Coub — Lawless StJite of the Highlands — Instance 
of Shocking Barbarity — Apprehension and Execution of Donald Ross, the Perpetrator 
— Another Expedition by James I. to the Highlands — Commotions in Caithness — 
Battles at Sandset and at Blare Tannie — Insurrection of the Lord of the Isles — Combat 
on the Sands of Strathfleet — Conduct of Allan of Lorn of the Wood — Alliance between 
the Lord of the Isles and other Chiefs and Edward IV. of England — Singular Treaty 
— Rebellion and Excesses of the Earl of Ross — his Submission and Assassination — 
Battle between the Clandonald and Clankenzie — Combat between the Mackays and 
the Rosses — Perfidious Attempt of the Mackays — Plan of James IV. to restore Good 
Government in the Highlands— Repeated Visits to the Highlands and Islands— Feud 
between Alexander Sutherland of Dilred, and Sir James Dunbar — Alexander Dun- 
bar killed by Alexander Sutherland — Execution of Dilred — The earl of Sutherland 
kills one nephew and wounds another. 

On the return of James I. from his captivity in England, he found 

Scotland, and particularly the Highlands, in a state of the most fearful 

insubordination. Rapine, robbery, and an utter contempt of the la\As 

prevailed to an alarming extent, which required all the energy of a wise 

and prudent prince, like James, to repress. When these excesses were 

first reported to James, by one of his nobles, on entering the kingdom, 

lie thus expressed himself: — "Let God but grant me life, and there 

shall not be a spot in my dominions where the key shall not keep the 

castle, and the furze-bush the cow, though I myself should lead the life 

of a dog to accomplish it."* The following correct and well-drawn 

sketch of the state of the Highlands, in the reign of James I., is thus 

given by Mr Tytler: — "At this period, the condition of the Highlands, 

so far as is discoverable from the few authentic documents which have 

reached our times, appears to have been in the highest degree rude and 

uncivilized. There existed a singular combination of Celtic and of 

feudal manners. Powerful chiefs, of Norman name and Norman blood, 

■lad penetrated into the remotest districts, and ruled over multitudes of 

/assals and serfs, whose strange and uncouth appellatives proclaim their 

lifference of race in the most convincing manner.f The tenure of lands 

y charter and seisin, the feudal services due by the vassal to his lord, 

♦ Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. 511. 
t MS. Adv. Lib. Coll. Diplom. a Macfarlane, vol. i. 245.— MS. Cart. ISloray, 263. 


the bands of friendship or of manrent which indissolubly united certain 
chiefs and nobles to each other, the baronial courts, and the complicated 
official pomp of feudal life, were all to be found in full strength and 
operation in the northern counties; but the dependence of the barons, 
who had taken up their residence in these wild districts, upon the king, 
and their allegiance and subordination to the laws, were less intimate 
and influential than in the Lowland divisions of the country; and as 
they experienced less protection, we have already seen, that in great 
public emergencies, when the captivity of the sovereign, or the payment 
of his ransom, called for the imposition of a tax upon property through- 
out the kingdom, these great northern chiefs thought themselves at 
libarty to resist the collection within their mountainous principalities. 

*' Besides such Scoto-Norman barons, however, there were to be found 
in the Highlands and the Isles, those fierce aboriginal chiefs, who 
hated the Saxon and the Norman race, and offered a mortal opposition 
to the settlement of all intruders within a country which they considered 
their own. They exercised the same authority over the various clans 
or septs of which they were the chosen heads or leaders, which the 
baron possessed over his vassals and their military followers ; and the 
dreadful disputes and collisions which perpetually occurred between 
these distinct ranks of potentates, were accompanied by spoliations, 
ravages, imp^'isonments, and murders, which had at last become so 
frequent and so far extended, that the whole country beyond the 
Grampian range, was likely to be cut off, by these abuses, from all 
regular communication with the more pacific parts of the kingdom." * 

Having, by a firm and salutary-, but perhaps severe, course of policy, 
restored the empire of the laws in the Lowlands, and obtained the 
enactment of new statutes for the future welfare and prosperity of the 
kingdom, James next turned his attention to his Highland dominions, 
which, as we have seen, were in a deplorable state of insubordination, 
which made both property and life insecure. The king determined to 
visit in person the disturbed districts, and by punishing the refractory 
chiefs, put an end to those tumults and enormities which had, during 
his minority, triumphed over the laws. The departure of James to his 
northern dominions was hastened by the intelligence of a disturbance in 
Caithness, into which Angus Dubh Mackay,or Black Angus, had entered, 
with all the forces he could collect in Strathnaver, and spoiled and laid 
waste that district. The inhabitants of Caithness met Mackay at Harpisdell, 
where a battle was fought, in which both sides suffered severely, but 
the result was not decisive, and Mackay continued his depredations. 
In the midst of these disorders, the king, in the year fourteen hundred 
and twenty-seven, arrived at Inverness, attended by his parliament, and 
immediately summoned the principal chiefs there to appear before him. 
From whatever moti^. es — ^whether from hopes of effecting a reconciliation 

• Hist. vol. iii. 250, 251. 


by a ready compliance with the mandate of the king, or from a dread, in 
case of refusal, of the fate of the powerful barons of the south who had 
fallen victims to James severity — the order of the king was obeyed, and the 
chiefs repaired to Inverness. No sooner, however, had they entered the hall 
where the parliamenc was sitting, than they were by order of the king 
arrested, ironed, and imprisoned in different apartments, and debarred 
all communication with each other, or with their followers. It has been 
supposed that these chiefs may have been entrapped by some fair pro- 
mises on the part of James, and the joy which, according to Fordun, he 
manifested at seeing these turbulent and haughty spirits caught in the 
toils which he had prepared for them, favours this conjecture. The 
number of chiefs seized on this occasion are stated to have amounted to 
about forty ; but the names of the principal ones only have been pre- 
served. These were Alaster or Alexander Macdonald, Lord of the 
Isles ; Angus Dubh, with his four sons, who could bring into the field 
four thousand fighting men ; Kenneth More and his son-in-law, Angus 
of Moray, and Macmathan who could muster two thousand men ; 
Alexander MacrsJuiy of Garmoran and John Macarthur, each of whom 
could bring into the field a thousand strong. Besides these were John 
Ross, James Campbell, and William Lesley. The Countess of Ross, 
the mother of Alexander, the Lord of the Isles, and heiress of Sir Walter 
Lesley, was also apprehended and imprisoned at the same time.* 

The king now determined to inflict summary vengeance upon his 
captives. Those who were most conspicuous for their crimes were 
immediately executed ; among whom were James Campbell, who was 
tried, convicted, and hanged for the murder of John of the Isles ; and 
Alexander Macraisy and John Macarthur who were beheaded. Alex- 
ander of the Isles and Angus Dubh, after a short confinement, were 
both pardoned ; but the latter was obliged to deliver up his son Neill 
as an hostage for his good behaviour, who was confined in the Bass, 
in the mouth of the Frith of Forth, and, from that circumstance, was 
aflerwards named Neill- Wasse-Mackay.f Besides these, many others, 
who were kept in prison in different parts of the kingdom, were after- 
wards condemned and executed. 

The royal clemency, which had been extended so graciously to the 
Lord of the Isles, met with an ungrateful return ; for shortly after the 
king had returned to his lowland dominions, Alexander collected a force 
of ten thousand men in Ross and the Isles, and with this formidable 
body laid waste the country ; plundered and devastated the crown-lands, 
against which his vengeance was chiefly directed, and razed the royal 
burgh of Inverness to the ground. On hearing of these distressing 
events, James, with a rapidity rarely equalled, collected a force, the 
extent of which has not been ascertained, and marched with great speed 
into Lochaber, where he found the enemy, who, from the celerity of 

* ForduiJ a Heamc, vol. iv. \2>^2 — 4- t Sir R. Gordon, p. frk 


Ids movements, were taken almost by surprise. Alexander prepared for 
battle ; but, before its commencement, he had the misfortune to witness 
the desertion of the Clan Chattan, and the Clan Cameron, who, to a 
man, went over to the royal standard. The king, thereupon, attacked 
Alexander's army, which he completely routed, and the latter sought 
his safety in flight. Being closely pursued, he sent a message to the 
king suing for peace ; but James sternly refused to enter into any ne- 
gotiation with a person who had rendered himself an outlaw ; and giv- 
ing strict orders for his apprehension, returned to his capital. 

Reduced to the utmost distress, and seeing the impossibility of evad- 
ing the active vigilance of his pursuers, who hunted him from place to 
place, this haughty lord, who considered himself on a par with kings, 
resolved to throw himself entirely on the mercy of the king, by an act 
of the most abject submission. Having arrived in Edinburgh, to which 
he had travelled in the most private manner, the humbled chief sud- 
denly presented himself before the king, on Easter- Sunday, in the church 
of Holyrood, when he and his queen, surrounded by the nobles of the 
court, were employed in their devotions before the high altar. The 
extraordinary appearance of the fallen prince denoted the inward work- 
ings of his troubled mind. Without bonnet, arms, or ornament of any 
kind, his legs and arms quite bare, and his body only covered with a 
plaid, and holding a naked sword in his hand by the point, he fell down 
on his knees before the king imploring mercy and forgiveness, and in 
token of his unreserved submission, offered the hilt of his sword to his 
majesty. At the solicitation of the queen and nobles, James spared his 
life, but committed him immediately to Tantallan-castle, under the 
charge of William, Earl of Angus, his nephew. This took place in the 
year fourteen hundred and twenty-nine. The countess of Ross was 
kept in close confinement in the ancient monastery of Inchcolm, on the 
small island of that name, in the Frith of Forth.* The king, however, 
relented, and released the Lord of the Isles and his mother, after about 
a year's imprisonment. 

During the confinement of the Lord of the Isles, the people of the 
isles and western Highlanders, incited by Donald Balloch, his kinsman, 
again revolted. He defeated the earls of Mar and of Caithness, at In- 
verlochy, with great slaughter ; but, on the approach of the king, Don- 
ald abandoned his army, and fled to Ireland, where he was afterwards 
killed. His head was sent to the king at Stirling, in the year fourteen 
hundred and twenty-six. Many of Donald's followers were put to 
death by James' orders. 

About this period happened another of those bloody frays, which 
destroyed the internal peace of the Highlands, and brought ruin and 
desolation upon many families. The circumstances which gave rise to 
the battle of Drum-ne-coub, were these. Thomas Macneill, son of 

" Fordun, vol. iv. 1286 


Neill Mackay, who was engaged in the battle of Tuttum Tunvigh, pos- 
sessed the lands of Creigh, Spaniziedaill, and Palrossie in Sutherland 
Having conceived some displeasure at Mowat, the laird of Freshwick, 
the latter, with his party, in order to avoid his vengeance, took refuge 
in the chapel of St DufTus, near the town of Tain, as a sanctuary. 
Thither they were followed by Thomas, who not only slew Mowat and 
his people, but also burnt the chapel to the ground. This outrage, 
upon religion and humanity, exasperated the king, who immediately 
ordered a proclamation to be issued, denouncing Thomas Macneill a 
rebel, and promising his lands and possessions as a reward to any one 
that would kill, or apprehend him. Angus Murray, son of Alexander 
Murray of Cubin, immediately set about the apprehension of Thomas 
Macneill. To accomplish his purpose, he held a secret conference with 
Morgan and Neill Macneill, the brothers of Thomas, at which he of- 
fered, provided they would assist him in apprehending their brother, his 
two daughters in marriage, and promised to aid them in getting peace- 
able possession of such lands in Strathnaver, as they claimed, which 
he showed them might be easily obtained, with little or no resistance, as 
Neill Mackay, son of Angus Dubh, from which the chief opposition 
might have been expected, was then a prisoner in the Bass, and Angus 
Dubh, the father, was unable, from age and infirmity, to defend his 
pretensions. Angus Murray also promised to request the assistance of 
the earl of Sutherland. As these two brothers pretended a right to the 
possessions of Angus Dubh in Strathnaver, they were easily allured by 
these promises ; they immediately apprehended their brother Thomas at 
Spaniziedaill in Sutherland, and delivered him up to Murray, by whom 
he was presented to the king. Macneill was immediately executed at 
Inverness, and Angus Murray obtained, in terras of the royal proclama- 
tion, a grant of the lands of Palrossie and Spaniziedaill from the king. 
The lands of Creigh fell into the hands of the Lord of the Isles, as 
superior, by the death and felony of Macneill.* 

In pursuance of his promise, Murray gave his daughters in marriage 
respectively to Neill and Morgan Macneill, and with the consent and 
approbation of Robert, Earl of Sutherland, he invaded Strathnaver 
with a party of Sutherland men, to take possession of the lands of 
Angus Dubh Mackay. Angus immediately collected his men, and gave 
the command of them to John Aberigh, his natural son, as he wai? 
unable to lead them in person. Both parties met about two miles from 
Toung, at a place called Drum-ne-Coub ; but, before they came to 
blows, Angus Dubh Mackay sent a message to Neill and Morgan, his 
cousins-german, offering to surrender them all his lands and possessions 
in Strathnaver, if they would allow him to retain Keantayle. This fair 
offer was, however, rejected, and an appeal was, therefore, immediately 
made to arms. A desperate conflict then took place, in which many 

* Sir Robert Gordon, pp. 64, 65. 
I. Y 

V- ^. 


were killed on both sides; among whom were Angus Murray and hU 
two sons-in-law, Neill and Morgan Macneill. John Aberigh, though 
he gained the victory, was severely wounded, and lost one of his arms. 
After the battle, Angus DubhMackay was carried, at his own request, 
to the field to search for the bodies of his slain cousins, but he was 
killed by an arrow from a Sutherland man, who lay concealed in a 
bush hard by. Neill Mackneill left three sons, Angus, John Bayn, and 
Paul ; two of them, Angus and Paul, after the death of their 'father, 
fixed their quarters in Sutherland, and molested the inhabitants residing 
along the sea-coast thereof, and drove away some of their cattle to the 
isle of Dolay in Breacht, where they took refuge ; but being closely 
pursued, and judging that they were not sufficiently secure in the island, 
they retired, under cloud of night, to a hill close by, afterwards called 
Knoc-Mhic-Neill, where they and their followers were slain, from which 
circumstance the hill was so named.* 

In consequence of this disaster at Drum-na-Coub, the earl of Suth- 
erland took up arms, and forced John Aberigh to seek safety in the 
isles. But he returned to Sutherland ; and having entered Strathully, 
unawares, the night after Christmas, he slew three of the Sutherlands at 
DinobcU. He again fled, but was so closely pursued by Robert, Earl 
of Sutherland, that he was forced to submit, after previously obtaining 
pardon. John then settled quietly in Strathnaver, where he continued 
till the reign of James IJ" when his brother Neill- Wasse-Mackay was 
relieved from his confinement in the Bass, and entered, with the full 
consent of John, into possession of his estates. To requite him, how- 
ever, for his attention to his father, he gave him the lands of Loch- 
naver in liferent, which were long possessed by his posterity. f 

About this time, the state of the Highlands was lawless in the ex • 
treme. Property and life were equally insecure from the banditti, who 
infested the country. James I. made many salutary regulations for put- 
ting an end to the disorders consequent upon such a state of society, 
and the oppressed looked up to him for protection. The following re- 
markable case will give some idea of the extraordinary barbarity in 
which the spoliators indulged : — A notorious thief, named Donald Ross, 
who had made himself rich with plunder, carried ofi" two cows from a 
poor woman. This woman having expressed a determination not to 
wear shoes again till she had made a complaint to the king in person, 
the robber exclaimed, " It is false : I'll have you shod before you reach 
the court;" and thereupon, with a brutality scarcely paralleled, the 
cruel monster took two horse shoes, and fixed them on her feet with 
nails driven into the flesh. The victim of this savage act, as soon as 
she was able to travel, went to the king, and related to him the 
whole circumstances of her case, which so exasperated him, that he 
immediately sent a warrant to the sheriff* of the county, where Ross 

• Sir R. Gordon, pp. 6o,G6. t Sir R. Gordon, p. 66. 



resided, for his immediate apprehension ; which being effected, he wa8 
sent under an escort to Perth, where the court was then held. Ross 
was tried and condemned ; and before his execution, a linen shirt, on 
which was painted a representation of his crime, was thrown over him, 
in which dress he was paraded through the streets of the town, after- 
wards dragged at a horse's tail, and hanged on a gallows.* 

The commotions in Strathnaver, and other parts of the Highlands, 
induced the king to make another expedition into that part of his do- 
minions ; previous to which, he summoned a Parliament at Perth, which 
was held on the fifteenth day of October, fourteen hundred and thirty- 
one, in which a land-tax, or " zelde," was laid upon the whole lands of 
the kingdom, to defray the expenses of the undertaking. No contem- 
porary record of this expedition exists ; but it is said that the king pro- 
ceeded to DunstafFrfage castle, to punish those chiefs who had joined in 
Donald Balloch's insurrection ; that on his arrival there, numbers of 
these came to him and made their submission, throwing the whole odium 
of the rebellion upon the leader, whose authority, they alleged, they 
were afraid to resist ; and that, by their means, three hundred thieves 
and robbers were apprehended and put to death. 

For several years after this expedition, the Highlands appear to have 
been tranquil ; but, on the liberation of Neill Mackay from his confine- 
ment on the Bass, in the year fourteen hundred and thirty-seven, fresh / j /i 
disturbances began. This restless chief had scarcely been released, //i j 
when he entered Caithness, and spoiled the country. He was met at a 
place called Sandsett ; but the people who came to oppose his progress 
were defeated, and many of them were slain. This conflict was called 
Ruaig Hanset ; that is, the flight, or chase at Sandsett.f 

About the same time, a quarrel took place between the Keiths and 
some others of the inhabitants of Caithness. As the Keiths could not 
depend upon their own forces, they sought the aid of Angus Mackay, 
son of Neill last mentioned, who had recently died. Angus agreed to 
join the Keiths; and accordingly, accompanied by his brother, John 
Roy, and a chieftain named lain-Mor-Mac-Iain-Riabhaich, with a 
company of men, he went into Caithness, and joiiiing the Keiths, in- 
vaded that part of Caithness, hostile to the Keiths. The people of 
Caithness lost not a moment in assembling together, and met the Strath- 
naver men and the Keiths at a place called Blare-Tannie. Here a san- 

♦ Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 510. Sir Robert Gordon says, that * Mackdonald 
R,osse being brought out of prisson with (uelve of his associats, the king commanded that 
they should be likewise shod with iron shoes, in the same sort as they had befor served 
the woman, and afterwards, that they should be careid, thrie severall dayes, through the 
streets of Edenburgh, for a spectacle to tlie people. All which being performed, the said 
Mackdonald Ross wes beheaded, and his twelve companions hanged on the high wayes. 
A notable pateme of justice, which may be an example to the negligent and sluggishjus- 
ticiars of our tynie, who suffer the poore and weak to be oppressed by strong and idle 
nagabounds." p. 68. 

f Sir R. Gordon, p. 68. 





guinary contest took place ; but victory declared for the Keiths, whose 
success was chiefly owing to tne prowess of lain-Mor-Mac-Iain- 
Riabhaich, whose name was, in consequence, long famous in that and 
the adjoining country.* 

After the defeat of James, the ninth earl of Douglas, who had re- 
nounced his allegiance to James II. at Arkinholme, in fourteen hundred 
and fifty-fiyev^ he r^irecLinto Argyleshire, where he was received by the 
earl of Ross, witn*w1iom, -nnd tho-Luid uf thn JelfT; he entered into an 
alliance. The ocean prince, having a powerful fleet of five hundred 
galleys at his command, immediately assembled his vassals, to the 
amount of five thousand fighting men, and having embarked them in 
his navy, gave the command of the whole to Donald Balloch, Lord of 
Isla, his near kinsman, a chief who, besides his possessions in Scotland, 
had great power in the north of Ireland. This potent chief, whose here- 
ditary antipathy against the Scottish throne was as keen as that of his 
relation, entered cheerfully into the views of Douglas. With the force 
under his command, he desolated the western coast of Scotland from 
Innerkip to Bute, the Cumrays, and the island of Arran ; yet formidable 
as he was both in men and ships, the loss was not so considerable as 
might have been expected, from the prudent precautions taken by the 
king to repel the invaders. The summary of the damage sustained, is 
thus related in a contemporary chronicle : — " There was slain of good 
men, fifteen ; of women, two or three ; of children, three or four. The 
plunder included five or six hundred horse, ten thousand oxen and kine, 
and more than a thousand sheep and goats. At the same time, they 
burnt down several mansions in Innerkip around the church ; harried all 
Arran ; stormed and levelled with the ground the castle of Brodick ; 
and wasted, with fire and sword, the islands of the Cumrays. They 
also levied tribute upon Bute ; carrying away a hundred bolls of malt, 
a hundred marts, and a hundred marks of silver."-]' 

While Donald Balloch was engaged in this expedition, the Lord of 
the isles, with his kinsmen and followers to the number of five or six 
hundred, made an incursion into Sutherland, and encamped before the 
castle of Skibo. What his object was has not been ascertained ; but, as 
a measure of precaution, the earl of Sutherland sent Neill Murray, son 
of Angus Murray, who was slain at Drum-na-Coub, to watch his motions. 
Tlie Lord of the isles immediately began to commit depredations, where- 
upon he was attacked by Murray, and compelled to retreat into Ross 
with the loss of one of his captains, named Donald Dubh-na-Soirn, and 
fifty of his men. Exasperated at this defeat, Macdonald sent another 
party of his islanders along with a company of men from Ross to 
Strathfleet in Sutherland to lay waste the country, and thus wipe off 
the disgrace of his late defeat. On hearing of this fresh invasion, the 
earl of Sutherland despatched his brother Robert with a sufficient force 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. bj>. f Auchiiileck Chronicle, p. 5&. 


to attack the Clandonald. They met on the sands of Strathfleet, and, 
after a fierce and bloody struggle, the islanders and their allies were 
overthrown Avith great slaughter. The survivors fled with great preci- 
pitation, and were pursued as far as the Bonagh. Many perished in 
the course of their flight. This was the last hostile irruption of the 
Clandonald into Sutherland, as all the disputes between the Lord of the 
Isles and the Sutherland family were afterwards accommodated by a ma- 
trimonial alliance.* 

The vigorous administration of James II. which checked and con- 
trolled the haughty and turbulent spirit of his nobles, was also felt, as 
we have seen, in the Highlands, where his power, ifjiot always ac- 
knowledged, was nevertheless dreaded; but upon the t nn u m^ of that 
wise prince, and the accession of his infant son to the crown, the 
princes of the north again abandoned themselves to their lawless courses. 
The first who showed the example was Allan of Lorn of the Wood, as 
he was called, a nephew of Donald Balloch by his sister. Coveting the 
estate of his elder brother, Ker of Lorn, Allan imprisoned him in a 
dungeon in the island of Kerera, witli the view of starving him to 
death that he might the more easily acquire the unjust possession he de- 
sired ; but Ker was liberated, and his property restored to him by the 
earl of Argyle to whom he was nearly related, who suddenly attacked 
Allan with a fleet of galleys, defeated him, burnt his fleet, and slew the 
greater part of his men. This act, so justifiable in itself, roused the re- 
vengeful passions of the island chiefs, who issued from their ocean re- 
treats and committed the most dreadful excesses.f 

After the decisive battle of Touton, Henry VI. and his Queen retired 
to Scotland to watch the first favourable opportunity of seizing the 
sceptre from the house of York, and fixing it in the race of Lancaster. 
Edward IV. anticipating the danger that might arise to his crown by an 
alliance between his rival, the exiled monarch, and the king of Scotland, 
determined to counteract the eflTects of such a connexion by a stroke of 
policy. Aware of the disaffected disposition of some of the Scottish 
nobles, and northern and island chiefs, he immediately entered into a ne- 
gotiation with John, earl of Ross, and Donald Balloch, to detach them 
from their allegiance. On the nineteenth day of October fourteen hun- . . / t 
dred and sixty-one, the earl of Ross, Donald Balloch, and his son John /^ ^ / 
de Isle, held a council of their vassals and dependants at Astornish, at 
which it was agreed to send ambassadors to England to treat with Ed- 
ward. On the arrival of these ambassadors a negotiation was entered 
into between them and the earl of Douglas, and John Douglas of Balveny, 
his brother, both of whom had been obliged to leave Scotland for their trea- 
sons in the previous reign. These two brothers, who were animated by a 
spirit of hatred and revenge against the family of their late sovereign James 
II., warmly entered into the views of Edward, whose subjects they had 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 74. | Auchinleck Chronicle, pp. 58, 59. 




become ; and they concluded a treaty with the northern ambassadors 
which assumed as its basis nothing less than the entire conquest of Scot- 
land. Among other conditions, it was stipulated, that, upon payment of 
a stipulated sum of money to himself, his son, and ally, the Lord of the 
Isles should become for ever the vassal of England, and should assist 
Edward and his successors in the wars in Ireland and elsewhere. And, 
in the event of the entire subjugation of Scotland by the earls of Ross 
and Douglas, the whole of the kingdom, on the north of the Frith of 
Forth, was to bo divided equally between these Earls and Donald Bal- 
loch, and the estates which formerly belonged to Douglas, between the 
Frith of Forth and the borders, were to be restored to him. This sin- 
gular treaty is dated London, the eighteenth February, fourteen hun- 
dred and sixty-two.* 

Pending this negotiation, the earl of Angus, at that time one of 
the most powerful of the Scottish nobles, having, by the promise of an 
English dukedom from the exiled Henry, engaged to assist in restoring 
him to his crown and dominions, the earl of Ross, before the plan had 
been organized, in order to counteract the attempt, broke out into 
open rebellion, which was characterized by all those circumstances of bar- 
barous cruelty which distinguished the inroads of the princes of the 
islands. He first seized the castle of Inverness at the head of a small 
party, being admitted unawares by the governor, who did not suspect 
his hostile intentions. He then collected a considerable army, and pro- 
claimed himself king of the Hebrides. With his army he entered the 
country of Athole, — denounced the authority of the king, and com- 
manded all taxes to be paid to him ; and, after committing the most 
dreadful excesses, he stormed the castle of Blair, dragged the earl and 
countess of Athole from the chapel of St Bridget, which he plundered, 
and carried them off to Isla as prisoners. It is related that the earl of 
Ross thrice attempted to set fire to the holy pile, but in vain. He lost 
many of his war-galleys in a storm of thunder and lightning, in which 
the rich booty he had taken was consigned to the deep, a punishment 
which " was universally ascribed to the wrath of Heaven, which had 
armed the elements against the abettor of sacrilege and murder."f Pre- 
parations were immediately made by the regents of the kingdom for 
punishing this rebellious chief; but these became unnecessary, for, touched 
with remorse, he collected the remains of his plunder, and stripped to his 
shirt and drawers, and barefooted, he, along with his principal followers, 
in the same forlorn and dejected condition, went to the chapel of St 
Bridget which they had lately desecrated, and there performed a penance 
before the altar. The earl and countess of Athole were thereupon vo- 
luntarily released from confinement, and the earl of Ross was afterwards 
assassinated in the castle of Inverness by an Irish harper who bore him 
a grudge.;}: 

• RoUili Scotise, vol. ii. 407. f Tytler. vol. iv. 195. 

t Fenerius, p. 363.— Lesley de Rebus Gestis Scotorum, p. 300.— Lesley's Hislorj- of 
Su)tl;iiid, p. 31, 


The successor of the Lord of the Isles not being disposed to tender 
the allegiance which his father had violated, the king, in the month of /// 
May, fourteen hundred and seventy-six, assembled a large army on the , ^ 
north of the Forth, and a fleet on the west coast, for the purpose of 
making a simultaneous attack upon him by sea and land. The earl of 
Crawford was appointed admiral of the fleet, and the earl of Athole 
generalissimo of the army. The latter was so quick in his movements 
as to come upon the earl of Ross almost by surprise, and seeing no 
hopes of making effectual resistance against such a powerful force as 
that sent against him, he tendered his submission to the king on cer- 
tain conditions, and resigned the earldom of Ross, and the lands of 
Kintyre and Knapdale, into his majesty's hands. By this act he was 
restored to the king's favour, who forgave him all his offences, and 
mfeft him of new in the lordship of the isles and the other lands which 
he did not renounce. The earl of Athole was rewarded for this service 
by a grant of the lands and forest of Cluny.* 

After the Lord of the Isles had thus resigned the earldom of Ross 
into the king's hands, that province was perpetually molested by incur- 
sions from the islanders, who now considered it a fit theatre for the ex- 
ercise of their predatory exploits. Gillespoc, cousin of the Lord of the 
Isles, at the head of a large body of the islanders, invaded the higher 
part of Ross, and committed great devastation. The inhabitants, or as 
many as the shortness of the time would permit, amongst whom the 
Clankenzie were chiefly distinguished, speedily assembled, and met the 
islanders on the banks of the Connan, where a sharp conflict took place. 
The Clankenzie fought with great valour, and pressed the enemy so 
hard, that Gillespoc Macdonald was overthrown, and the greater part of 
his men were slain or drowned in the river about two miles from Braile, 
thence called Blar-na-Pairc. The predecessor of the Laird of Brodie, 
who happened to be with the chief of the Mackenzies at the time, fought 
with great courage. It is reported that, before the skirmish, the Clan- 
donald robbed and burnt a chapel near the river Connan, not far from 
the place they fought, which, it was believed, was the cause of their dis- 
aster. Another contest took place afterwards between the islanders and 
the Clandonald and the Clankenzie, at a place called Drumchatt, when, 
after a sharp conflict, the islanders were routed and driven out of Ross.f 

For a considerable time the district of Sutherland had remained . n f^ 
tranquil, but on the eleventh of July, fourteen hundred and eighty-seven, / Jj^ ^ / 
it again became the scene of a bloody rencounter between the Mackays / 

and the Rosses. To revenge the death of a relation, or to wipe away 
the stigma of a defeat, were considered sacred and paramount duties 
by the Highlanders; and if, from the weakness of the clan, the 
minority of the chief, or any other cause, the day of deadly reckoning 
was delayed, the feeling which prompted revenge was never dormant, 

• Lesley's Hist., p. 41.— Sir R. Gordon, p. 77. t Sir R. Gordon, p. 67. 


and the earliest opportunity was embraced -of vindicating the honour of 
the clan. Angus Mackay, son of the famous Neill of the Bass, having 
been killed at Tarbet by a Ross, his son, John Riabhaich Mackay, 
applied to John, earl of Sutherland, on whom he depended, to assist 
him in revenging his father's death. The earl promised his aid, and 
accordingly sent his uncle, Robert Sutherland, with a company of chosen 
men to assist John Mackay. With this force, and such men as John 
Mackay and his relation, Uilleam-Dubh-Mac-Iain-Abaraich, son of John 
Aberigh who fought at Drum-na-Coub, could collect, they invaded 
Strath-oy-kell, carrying fire and sword in their course, and laying waste 
many lands belonging to the Rosses. As soon as the laird of Balna- 
gown, the chief of the Rosses, heard of this attack, he collected all his 
forces, and attacked Robert Sutherland and John Riabhaich ^Mackay, at 
a place called Aldy-charrish. A long and obstinate battle took place : 
on which side victory was to declare itself was a point which remained 
for a considerable time very dubious ; but the death of Balnagown 
and seventeen of the principal landed gentlemen of Ross decided the 
combat, for the people of Ross, being deprived of their leader, were 
thrown into confusion, and utterly put to flight, with great slaughter. 
Among the principal gentlemen slain on the side of the Rosses were, 
Alexander Ross of Balnagown, Mr William Ross, Alexander Terrall, 
Angus M'Culloch of Terrell, William Ross, John Wause, William 
Wasse, John Mitchell, Thomas Wause, and Hutcheon Wause. 

The fruit of this victory was a large quantity of booty, which the 
victors divided the same day ; but the avarice of the men of Assint 
induced them to instigate John Mackay to resolve to commit one of the 
most perfidious and diabolical acts ever perpetrated by men who had 
fought on the same side. The design of tlie Assint men was, to cut off 
Robert Sutherland and his whole party, and possess themselves of their 
share of the spoil, before the earl of Sutherland could learn the result of 
the battle, that he might be led to suppose that his uncle and his men 
had all fallen in the action with the Rosses. W^hen this plan was divulged 
to Uilleam-Dubh-Mac-Iain-Abaraich, he was horrified at it, and imme- 
diately sent notice to Robert Sutherland of it, that he might be upon 
his guard. Robert assembled his men upon receipt of this extraordinary 
intelligence, told tliem of the base intentions of John IMackay, and put 
them in order, to be prepared for the threatened attack ; but on John 
Riabhaich Mackay perceiving that Robert and his party were prepared 
to meet him, he slunk off, like a perfidious villain, and went home to 

The lawless state of society in the Highlands, which followed as a 
consequence from the removal of tiie seat of government to the Low- 
lands, though it often engaged the attention of the Scottish sovereigns, 
uever had proper remedies applied to it. At one time the aid of force 

• Sir R. Gordon, pp. 78, 79. 


XV as called in, and when that was found ineffectual, the vicious principle • 

of dividing the chiefs, that they might the more effectually weaken and 
destroy one another, was adopted. Both plans, as might be supposed, 
proved abortive. If the government had, by conciliatory measures, and 
by a profusion of favours, suitable to the spirit of the times, secured 
the attachment of the heads of the clans, the supremacy of the laws 
might have been vindicated, and the sovereign might have calculated 
upon the support of powerful and trust-worthy auxiliaries in his do- 
mestic struggles against the encroachments of the nobles. Such ideas 
appear never to have once entered the minds of the kings, but it was 
reserved for James IV. to make the experiment. " To attach to his 
interest the principal chiefs of these provinces, to overawe and subdue 
the petty princes who affected independence, to carry into their terri- 
tories, hitherto too exclusively governed by their own capricious or 
tyrannical institutions, the same system of a severe, but regular and 
rapid administration of civil and criminal justice, which had been estab- 
lished in his Lowland dominions, was the laudable object of the king ; 
and for this purpose he succeeded, with that energy and activity which 
remarkably distinguished him, in opening up an intercourse with many 
of the leading men in the northern counties. With the captain of the 
Clanchattan, Duncan Mackintosh ; with Ewan, the son of Alan, captain 
of the Clancameron ; with Campbell of Glenurqhay ; the Macgil- 
leouns of Duart and Lochbuy ; Mackane of Ardnamurchan ; the 
lairds of Mackenzie and Grant ; and the earl of Huntley, a baron of 
the most extensive power in those northern districts — he appears to 
have been in habits of constant and regular communication — rewarding 
them by presents, in the shape either of money or of grants of land, 
and securing their services in reducing to obedience such of their fel- 
low chieftains as proved contumacious, or actually rose in rebellion."* 

But James carried his views farther. Rightly judging how much the 
personal presence of the sovereign would be valued by his distant sub- 
jects, and the good effects which would result therefrom, he resolved 
to visit- different parts of his northern dominions. Accordingly, in the 
year fourteen hundred and ninety, accompanied by his court, he rode / j/fu 
twice from Perth across the chain of mountains which extends across 7 

the country from the border of the Mearns to the head of Loch Ran- ^ 

noch, which chain is known by the name of the " Mount." Again, in 
fourteen hundred and ninety-three, he twice visited the Highlands, and / / ^ i 
went as far as Dunstaffnage and Mengarry, in Ardnamurchan. In the / 

following year he visited the isles no less than three times. His first 
voyage to the islands, which took place in April and May, was con- 
ducted with great state. He was attended by a vast suite, many of whom 
fitted out vessels at their own expense. The grandeur which surrounded 
the king, impressed the islanders with a high idea of his wealth and 

• Tytler, vol. iv, p. 367, 368. 


power; and his condescension and familiarity ^Wth all classes of his sub- 
jects, acquired for him a popularity which added strength to his throne. 
During these marine excursions, the youthful monarch indulged his 
passion for sailing and hunting, and thereby relieved the tediousness of 
business, by the recreation of agreeable and innocent pleasures. 

The only opposition which James met with during these excursions 
was from the restless Lord of the Isles, who had the temerity to put the 
king at defiance, notwithstanding the repeated and signal marks of the 
royal favour he had experienced. But James was not to be trifled with, 
for he summoned the island prince to stand his trial for " treason i\» 
Kintire ;" and in a parliament held in Edinburgh shortly after the king s 
return from the north, " Sir John of the Isles," as he is named in the 
treasurer's accounts, was stripped of his power, and his possessions were 
forfeited to the crown. 

One of those personal petty feuds which were so prevalent in the 
Highlands, occurred about this time. Alexander Sutherland of Dilred, 
being unable or unwilling to repay a sum of money he had borrowed 
from Sir James Dunbar of Cumnock, the latter took legal measures to 
secure his debt by appraising part of Dilred's lands. This proceeding 
vexed the laird of Dilred exceedingly, and he took an umbrage at the 
Dunbars, who had recently settled in Sutherland, " grudgeing as it were, 
(says Sir R. Gordon,) "that a stranger should brawe (brave) him at his 
owne doors." Happening to meet Alexander Dunbar, brother of Sir 
James, who had lately married Lady Margaret Baillie, Countess Dowa- 
ger of Sutherland, high words passed between them, a combat ensued, 
and after a long contest Alexander Dunbar was killed. Sir James Dun- 
bar thereupon went to Edinburgh, and laid the matter before King James 
the Fourth, who was so exasperated at the conduct of Alexander Suther- 
land, that he immediately proclaimed him a rebel, sent messengers every 
where in search of him, and promised his lands to any person that would 
apprehend him. After some search he was apprehended with ten of 
his followers by his uncle, Y-Roy-Mackay, brother of John Reawigh 
Mackay already mentioned, who sent him to the king. Dilred was tried, 
condemned, and executed, and his lands declared forfeited. For this ser- 
vice, Y-Roy-Mackay obtained from the king a grant of the lands of Arra- 
dall, Far, Golspietour, Kinnald, Kilcolmkill, and Dilred, which formerly 
belonged to Alexander Sutherland, as was noted in Mackay's infeftment, 
dated in fourteen hundred and forty-nine.* " Avarice, (says Sir R. 
Gordon,) is a strange vyce, which respects neither blood nor freindsliip. 
This is the first infeftment that any of the familie of Macky had from 
the king, so far as I can perceave by the records of this kingdom ; and 
they wer untill this tyme possessors onlie of ther lands in Strathnaver, 
not careing much for any charters or infeftments, as most pairts of the 
Highlanders have alwise done." 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. sa 



The grant of the king as to the lands over which Sir James Dunbar's 
security extended, was called in question by Sir James, who obtained a 
decree before the lords of council and session, in February fifteen hun- 
dred and twelve, setting aside the right of Y-Roy-Mackay, and ordaining 
the earl of Sutherland, as superior of the lands, to receive Sir James 
Dunbar as his vassal.* 

A lamentable instance of the ferocity of these times is afforded in the 
case of one of the e-arls of Sutherland, who upon some provocation slew 
two of his nephews. This earl, who was named John, had a natural 
brother, Thomas Moir, who had two sons, Robert Sutherland and the 
Keith, so called on account of his being brought up by a person of that 
name. The young men had often annoyed the earl, and on one occasion 
they entered his castle of Dunrobin to brave him to his face, an act which 
so provoked the earl, that he instantly killed Robert in the house. The 
Keith, after receiving several wounds, made his escape, but he was over- 
taken and slain at the Clayside near Dunrobin, which from that circum- 
stance was afterwards called Ailein-Cheith, or the bush of the Keith.f 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. SO. f Sir R. Gordon, p. 81. 



Alliance between the Earl of Sutherland and the Earl of Caithness — Feuds among the 
Mackays — John Mackay ravages Sutherland — Mackay defeated at Torran-Dow— 
Quarrel between the Keiths and the Clan Gun — Skirmish at Loch Salchie — Combat 
between the Mackays and the Murrays — Alexander Sutherland, the bastard, claims 
the Earldom of Sutherland — His warlike operations, apprehension, and execution — 
John Mackay invades Sutherland — His Defeat — Dissention among the Clan-Chattan 
— Murder of the Chief — Operations of Hector Mackintosh — Massacre of the Ogilvies 
— Three hundred of the Mackintoshes executed — Remarkable instance of Fidelity- 
Submission of Hector Mackintosh — His Assassination — Donald Mackay invades 
Sutherland — Skirmishes at Aldy-ne-Beth and at Loch Buy — Lawless proceedings of 
the Clanranald — Battle of Blar-Nan-Lein, in which the Erasers are almost annihi- 
lated Apprehension and punishment of Ewen Allenson and Donald M'Coneilglase 

— Illegal conduct of the Earl of Caithness and Donald Mackay — Apprehension and 
Execution of the chief of the Mackintoshes — Commotions in Sutherland — Expedi- 
tion against the Clanranald — Queen Regent's journey to the Highlands — Mackay's 
depredations — His submission and imprisonment — Devastations of John More-Mackay 
—Severe defeat of the Strathnaver men — Criminal conduct of Mackay — Feuds in 
Sutherland and Caithness — Execution of the Chief of the Guns— The Earl and Coun- 
tess of Sutherland poisoned — Mackay of Far wastes Sutherland — The Earl of Caithness 
takes the castle of Skibo, and seizes the young Earl of Sutherland— Feud between the 
Murrays and the Seill-faille — Oppressive proceedings of the Earl of Caithness — The 
Earl of Sutherland rescued — Quarrel between the Monroes and the Mackenzies— 
Renewed oppressions of the Earl of Caithness. 

In the year fifteen hundred and sixteen, Adam Earl of Sutherland, 
in anticipation of threatened dangers in the north, entered into bonds of 
friendship and alliance with the earl of Caithness for mutual protection 
and support. The better to secure the goodwill and assistance of the 
earl of Caithness, Earl Adam made a grant of some lands upon the east- 
side of the water of Ully ; but the earl of Caithness, although he kept 
possession of the lands, joined the foes of his ally and friend. The earl 
of Sutherland, however, would have found a more trust-worthy supporter 
in the person of Y-Roy-Mackay, who had come under a written obliga- 
tion to serve him, the same year ; but Mackay died, and a civil war imme- 
diately ensued in Strathnaver, between John and Donald Mackay his 
bastard sons, and Neill-Naverigh Mackay, brother of Y-Roy, to obtain 
possession of his lands. John took possession of all the lands belonging 
to his father in Strathnaver ; but his uncle Neill laid claim to them, and 
applied to the earl of Caithness for assistance to recover them. The earl, 
after many entreaties, put a force under the command of Neill and his two 
sons, with which they entered Strathnaver, and obtaining an accession of 
strength in that country, they dispossessed John Mackay, who immedi- 
ately went to the Clan Chattan, and Clan Kenzie, to crave their aid and 


support, leaving his brother Donald Mackay to defend himself in Strath- 
naver as he best could. Donald not having a sufficient force to meet 
his uncle and cousins in open combat, had recourse to a stratagem which 
succeeded entirely to his mind. With his little band he, under cloud of 
night, surprised his opponents at Delreavigh in Strathnaver, and slew 
both his cousins and the greater part of their men, and thus he utterly 
destroyed the issue of Neill. John Mackay, on hearing of this, immedi- 
ately joined his brother, and drove out of Strathnaver all persons who 
had favoured the pretensions of his uncle Neill-Naverigh. This unfor- 
tunate old man, after being abandoned by the earl of Caithness, threw 
himself upon the generosity of his nephews, requesting that they would 
merely allow him a small maintenance to keep him from poverty during 
the remainder of his life ; but these unnatural nephews, regardless of 
mercy and the ties of blood, ordered Neill to be beheaded in their presence 
by the hands of ClafT-na-Gep, his own foster brother.* 

In the year fifteen hundred and seventeen, advantage was taken by 
John Mackay, of the absence of the earl of Sutherland, who had gone to 
Edinburgh to transact some business connected with his estates, to in- 
vade the province of Sutherland, and to burn and spoil every thing which 
came in his way. He was assisted in this lawless enterprise by two races 
of people dwelling in Sutherland, called the Siol-Phaill, and the Siol- 
Thomais, and by Neil-Mac-Iain-Mac- Angus of Assint, and his brother 
John Mor-Mac-Iain, with some of their countrymen. As soon as the 
countess of Sutherland, who had remained at home, heard of this invasion, 
she prevailed upon Alexander Sutherland, her bastard brother, to oppose 
Mackay. Assisted chiefly by John Murray of Aberscors, and Uilleam- 
Mac-Sheumais-Mhic-Chruner, chief of the Clan Gun in Sutherland, 
Alexander convened hastily the inhabitants of the country and went in 
search of the enemy. He met John Mackay and his brother Donald, at 
a place called Torran-Dubh or Cnocan-Dubh, near Rogart in Strath- 
fleet. Mackay 's force was prodigious, for he had assembled not only the 
whole strength of Strathnaver, D urines, Edderachilis and Assint, with the 
Siol-Phaill and Siol-Thomais ; but also all the disorderly and idle men of 
the whole diocess of Caithness, with all such as he could entice to join 
nim from the west and north-west isles, to accompany him in his expe- 
dition, buoyed up with the hopes of plunder. But the people of Suther- 
land were nowise dismayed at the appearance of this formidable host, 
and made preparations for an attack. A desperate struggle commenced, 
and after a long contest Mackay 's van-guard was driven back upon the 
position occupied by himself. Mackay having rallied the retreating 
party, selected a number of the best and ablest men he could find, and 
having placed the remainder of his army under the command of his 
brother, Donald, to act as a re?erve in case of necessity, he made a 
fiirious attack upon the Sutherland men, who received the enemy with 

• Sir Robert Gordon, p. 90. 




great coolness and intrepidity. The chiefs on both sides encouraged 
their men to fight for the honour of their clans, and in consequence the 
fight was severe and bloody; but in the end the Sutherland men, after great 
slaughter, and after prodigies of valour had been displayed by both 
parties, obtained the victory. Mackay's party was almost entirely 
cut off", and Mackay himself escaped with difficulty. The victors next 
turned their attention to the reserve under the command of Donald 
Mackay ; but Donald dreading the fate of his brother, fled along with his 
party, who immediately dispersed themselves. They were, however 
closely pursued by John Murray and Uilleam Mac-Sheumais, till the 
darkness of the night prevented the pursuit. In this battle, two hundred 
of the Strathnaver men, thirty-two of the Siol-Phaill, and fifteen of the 
Siol-Thomais, besides many of the Assint men, and their commander, 
Niall-Mac-Iain-Mac-Aonghais, a valiant chieftain, were slain. John 
Mor-Mac-Iain, the brother of this chief, escaped with his life after re- 
ceiving many wounds. Of the Sutherland men, thirty-eight only were 
slain. Sir Robert Gordon says that this " was the greatest conflict that 
hitherto hes been foughtin between the inhabitants of these cuntreyes, or 
within the diocy of Catteynes, to our knowlege."* 

Shortly after the battle of Torran-Dubh, Uilleam Mac-Sheumais, called 
Cattigh, chief of the Clan Gun, killed George Keith of Aikregell with 
his son and twelve of their followers, at Drumraoy, in Sutherland, as 
they were travelling from Inverugie to Caithness. This act was com- 
mitted by Mac-Sheumais to revenge the slaughter of his grandfather (the 
Cruner,) who had been slain by the Keiths, under the following circum- 
stances. A long feud had existed between the Keiths and the Clan Gun, 
/ to reconcile which, a meeting was appointed at the chapel of St Tayr in 

^ / j^Cf Caithness, near Gernig/, of twelve horsemen on each side. The Cruner, 
/ then chief of the Clan Gun, with some of his sons and his principal kins- 

/ men, to the number of twelve in whole, came to the chapel at the ap- 

pointed time. As soon as they arrived, they entered the chapel and 
prostrated themselves in prayer before the altar. While employed in this 
devotional act, the laird of Inverugie and Aikregell arrived with twelve 
horses, and two men on each horse. After dismounting, the whole of 
this party rushed into the chapel armed, and attacked the Cruner and 
his party unawares. The Clan Gun, however, defended themselves with 
great intrepidity, and although the whole twelve were slain, many of the 
Keiths were also killed. For nearly two centuries the blood of the slain 
was to be seen on the walls of the chapel which it had stained. James 
Gun, one of the sons of the Cruner, being absent, immediately on hearing 
of his father's death, retired with his family into Sutherland where he 
settled, and where his son William Mac-Sheumais or Mac-James, other- 
wise William Cattigh, was born. 

As John Mackay :mputed his defeat at Torran-Dubh mainly to John 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 92. 


Murray of Aberscors, he resolved to take the first convenient opportu- 
nity of revenging himself, and wiping off the disgrace of his discomfiture, 
Jle, therefore, not being in a condition himself to undertake an expedi- 
tion, employed two brothers, William and Donald, his kinsmen, chieftains 
of the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, with a company of men to attack Murray 
The latter having mustered his forces, the parties met at a place called 
Loch-Salchie, not far from the Torran-Dubh, where a sharp skirmish 
took place, in which Murray proved victorious. The two Strathnaver 
chieftains and the greater part of their men were slain, and the remainder 
were put to flight. The principal person who fell on Murray's side was 
his brother John-Roy, whose loss he deeply deplored. 

Exasperated at this second disaster, John Mackay sent John Croy 
and Donald, two of his nephews, sons of Angus Mackay, who was killed 
at Morinsh in Ross, at the head of a number of chosen men to plunder 
and burn the town of Pitfour, in Strathfleet, which belonged to John 
Murray ; but they were equally unsuccessful, for John Croy Mackay, 
and some of his men were slain by the Murrays, and Donald was taken 
prisoner. In consequence of these repeated reverses, John Mackay 
submitted himself to the earl of Sutherland, on his return from Edinburgh, 
and granted him his bond of service, in the year fifteen hundred and 
eighteen. But notwithstanding of this submission, Mackay afterwards 
tampered with Alexander Sutherland, the bastard, and having gained 
his favour by giving his sister to Sutherland in marriage, he prevailed 
upon him to raise the standard of insurrection against the earl of Suther- 
land. All these commotions in the north happened during the minority 
of King James V., when, as Sir R. Gordon says, " everie man thought 
to escape unpunished, and cheiflie these who were remotest fi:om the 
seat of justice."* 

This Alexander Sutherland was son of John, the third of that name, 
Earl of Sutherland, and as he pretended that the Earl and his mother 
had entered into a contract of marriage, he laid claim, on the death of 
the earl, to the title and estates, as a legitimate descendant of Earl John, 
his father. By the entreaties of Adam Gordon, Lord of Aboyne, who 
had married Lady Elizabeth, the sister and sole heiress of Earl John, 
Alexander Sutherland judicially renounced his claim in presence of the 
Slierifi" of Inverness, on the twenty-fifth day of July, fifteen hundred and 
nine. He now repented of what he had done, and being instigated by 
the earl of Caithness and John Mackay, mortal foes to the house of 
Sutherland, he renewed his pretensions. Earl Adam, perceiving that he 
might incur some danger in making an appeal to arms, particularly, as 
the clans and tribes of the country, with many of whom Alexander had 
become very popular, were broken into factions and much divided on 
the question betwixt him and Alexander Sutherland, endeavoured to win 
him over by offering him many favourable conditions, again to renounce 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 93. 



his claims ; but in vain. He maintained the legitimacy of his descent, 
and alleged that the renunciation he had granted at Inverness, had been 
obtained from him contrary to his inclination, and against the advice of 
his best friends. 

Having collected a considerable force, he, in absence of the earl, who 
was in Strathbogy, attacked Dunrobin castle, the chief strength of the 
earl, which he took. In this siege he was chiefly supported by Alex- 
ander Terrell of the Doill, who in consequence of taking arms against 
the earl, his superior, lost all his lands, and was afterwards apprehended 
and executed. As soon as the earl heard of the insurrection, he des- 
patched Alexander Lesley of Kinninuvy, with a body of men into Suther- 
land, to assist John Murray of Aberscors, who was already at the head 
of a force to support the earl. They immediately besieged Dunrobin, 
which surrendered. Alexander had retired to Strathnaver; but he 
again returned into Sutherland with a fresh body of men, and laid waste 
the country. After putting to death several of his own kinsmen who 
had joined the earl, he descended farther into the country, towards the 
parishes of Loth and Clyne. Meeting with little or no opposition, the 
bastard grew careless, and being observed wandering along the Suther- 
land coast, flushed with success and regardless of danger, the earl formed 
the design of cutting him entirely off". With this view he directed Alex- 
afider Lesley of Kinninuvy, John Murray, and John Scorrigh-Mac. 
Finlay, one of the Siol-Thoraais, to hover on Sutherland's outskirts, and 
to keep skirmishing with him till he, the earl, should collect a sufficient 
force, with which to attack him. Having collected a considerable body 
of resolute men, the earl attacked the bastard at a place called Ald- 
Quhillin, by East Clentredaill, near the sea side. A warm contest en- 
sued, in which Alexander Sutherland was taken prisoner, and the most 
of his men were slain, including John Bane one of his principal support- 
ers, who fell by the hands of John Scorrigh-Mac-Finlay. After the 
battle Sutherland was immediately beheaded by Alexander Lesley on the 
spot, and his head sent to Dunrobin on a spear, which was placed upon the 
top of the great tower, " which shews us (as Sir Robert Gordon, following 
the superstition of his times, curiously r bserves,) that whatsoever by fate 
is allotted, though sometymes forshewed, can never be avoyded. For 
the witches had told Alexander the bastard, that his head should be the 
highest that ever wes of the Southerlands ; which he did foolishlye inter- 
pret that some day he should be earl of Southerland, and in honor above 
all his predicessors. Thus the divell and his ministers, the witches, 
deceaving still such as trust in them, will either find or frame predictions 
tor everie action or event, which doeth ever fall out contrarie to ther 
expectations : a kynd of people to all men unfaithfull, to hopers deceatful, 
and in all cuntries allwise forbidden, allwise reteaned and manteaned."* 

The earl of Sutherland being now far advanced in life, retired for the 

• Sir R. Gordon, pp. 96. 97. 

MACKAY's invasion of SUTHERLAND. 1P3 

most part to Strathbogy and Aboyne to spend the remainder of his days 
amongst his friends, and intrusted the charge of the country to Alex- 
ander Gordon, his eldest son, a young man of great intrepidity and 
talent. The restless chief, John Mackay, still smarting under his mis- 
fortunes, and thirsting for revenge, thought the present a favourable op- 
portunity for retrieving his losses. With a considerable force, therefore, 
he invaded Sutherland, and entered the parish of Creigh, which he in- 
tended to ravage, but the Master of Sutherland hastened thither, attacked 
Mackay, and forced him to retreat into Strathnaver with some loss. 
Mackay then assembled a large body of his countrymen and invaded 
the Breachat. He was again defeated by Alexander Gordon at the 
Grinds after a keen skirmish. Hitherto Mackay had been allowed to 
hold the lands of Grinds, and some other possessions in the west part of 
Sutherland, but the Master of Sutherland now dispossessed him of all 
these as a punishment for his recent conduct. Still dreading a renewal 
of Mackay 's visits, the Master of Sutherland resolved to retaliate, by 
invading Strathnaver in return, and thereby showing Mackay what he 
might in future expect if he persevered in continuing his visits to Suther- 
land. Accordingly, he collected a body of stout and resolute men, and 
entered Strathnaver, which he pillaged and burnt, and, having collected 
a large quantity of booty, returned into Sutherland. In entering Strath- 
naver, the Master of Sutherland had taken the road to StrathuUy, pass- 
ing through Mackay 's bounds in the hope of falling in with and appre- 
hending him, but Mackay was absent on a Creach excursion into Suther- 
land. In returning, however, through the Diric Muir and the Breachat, 
Alexander Gordon received intelligence that Mackay with a company 
of men was in the town of Lairg, with a quantity of cattle he had col- 
lected in Sutherland, on his way home to Strathnaver. He lost no time 
in attacking Mackay, and such was the celerity of his motions, that his 
attack was as sudden as unexpected. Mackay made the best resistance 
lie could, but was put to the rout, and many of his men were killed. 
He himself made his escape with great difficulty, and saved his life by 
swimming to the island of Eilean-Minric, near Lairg, where he lay con- 
cealed during the rest of the day. All the cattle which Mackay had 
carried away were rescued and carried back into Sutherland. The fol- 
lowing day Mackay left the island, returned home to his country, and 
again submitted himself to the Master and his father, the earl, to whom 
he a second time gave his bond of service and manrent in the year 
fifteen hundred and twenty-two. * 

As the earl of Caithness had always taken a side against the Suther- 
land family in these different quarrels, the earl of Sutherland brought 
an action before the Lords of Council and Session against the earl oi 
Caithness to recover back from him the lands of StrathuUy, on the 
ground, that the earl of Caithness had not fulfilled the condition on which 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 97. 
2 A 




the lands were granted to him, viz. to assist the earl of Sutherland 
against his enemies. There weie other minor points of dispute between 
the earls, to get all which determined they both repaired to Edinburgh. 
Instead, however, of abiding the issue of atrial at law before the judges, 
both parties, by the advice of mutual friends, referred the decision of all 
the points in dispute on either side to Gavin Dunbar, * bishop of Aber- 
deen, who pronounced his award, at Edinburgh, on the eleventh day ot 
March fifteen hundred and twenty-four, which put an end to all contro- 
versies, and made the earls live in peace with one another ever after. 

The year fifteen hundred and twenty-six was signalized by a great 
dissension among the Clan Chattan. The chief and head of that clan 
was Lauchlan Mackintosh of Dunnachtan, " a verrie honest and wyse 
gentleman (says Bishop Lesley), an barroun of gude rent, quha keipit 
hes hole ken, friendes and tennentis in honest and guid rewU ;" f and 
according to Sir Robert Gordon, " a man of great possessions, and of 
such excellencies of witt and judgement, that with great commendation 
he did conteyn all his followers within the limits of ther dueties.;}:" The 
strictness with which this worthy chief curbed the lawless and turbulent 
dispositions of his clan raised up many enemies, who, as Bishop Lesley 
says, were " impacient of vertuous living." At the head of this restless 
party was James Malcolmeson, a near kinsman of the chief, who insti- 
gated by his worthless companions, and the temptation of ruling the clan, 
murdered the good chief. Afraid to face the better part of the clan, to 
whom the chief was beloved, Malcolmeson, along with his followers, 
cook refuge in the island in the loch of Rothiemurcus ; but the enraged 
clan followed them to their hiding places and despatched them. 

As the son of the deceased chief was of tender age, and unable to 
govern the clan, with common consent they made choice of Hector 
Mackintosh, a bastard brother of the late chief, to act as captain till his 
nephew should arrive at manhood. In the meantime, the earl of Moray, 
who was uncle to young Mackintosh, the former chief having been mar- 
ried to the earl's sister, took away his nephew and placed him under the 
care of his friends for the benefit of his education, and to bring him up 
virtuously. Hector Mackintosh was greatly incensed at the removal of 
the child, and used every effort to get possession of him ; but meeting 
with a refusal he became outrageous, and laid so many plans for ac- 
complishing his object, that his intention^ became suspected, as it was 
thought he could not wish so ardently for the custody of the child with- 
out some bad design. Baffled in every attempt. Hector, assisted by his 
brother William, collected a body of their followers and invaded the earl 
of Moray's lands. They overthrew the fort of Dykel and besieged the 
^^ / castle of Tarniway, the country surrounding which they plundered, 

♦ It was this excellent Bishop wbo built, at his OAvn expense, the beautiful bridge of 
Sfvi'ii arches on the Dee, near Aberdeen. The Episcopal arms cut on somb of the stone) 
are almost as entire as when chiselled by the hands of the sculptor. 

4 HisL of Scotland, p. 137. \ l\ 99. 


burnt the houses of the inhabitants, and slew a number of men, women, 
and children. Raising the siege of Tarnoway, Hector and his men then 
entered the country of the Ogilvies and laid siege to the castle of Pety 
-tens-, which belonged to the laird of Durnens, one of the families of the 
Ogilvies, and which, after some resistance, surrendered. No less than 
twenty-four gentlemen of the name of Ogilvie were massacred on this 
occasion. After this event, the Mackintoshes and the party of banditti ^ 

they had collected, roamed over the whole of the adjoining country, car- ^R * 4, 
rying terror and dismay into every bosom, and plundering, burning, and 
destroying every thing within their reach. To repress disorders which 
called so loudly for redress. King James V., by the advice of his council, 
granted a commission to the earl of Moray to take measures accordingly. 
Having a considerable force put under his command, the earl went in pur- 
suit of Mackintosh and his party, and having surprised them, he took 
upwards of three hundred * of them and hanged them, along with William 
Mackintosh, the brother of Hector. William's head was fixed upon a 
pole at Dykes, and his body was quartered, the four quarters of which 
were sent to Elgin, Forres, Aberdeen, and Inverness, for public expo- 
sure to deter others from following his example. A singular instance of 
the fidelity of the Highlanders to their chiefs is afforded in the present 
case, where out of such 9, vast number as suffered, not one would reveal 
the secret of Hector Mackintosh's retreat, although promised their lives 
for the discovery. " Ther faith wes so true to ther captane, that they 
culd not be persuaded, either by fair meanes, or by any terror of death, 
to break the same or to betray their master." \ 

Seeing no hopes of escaping the royal vengeance but by a ready sub- 
mission, Hector Mackintosh, by advice of Alexander Dunbar, Dean of 
Moray, tendered his obedience to the king, which was accepted of, and 
he was received into the royal favour* He did not, however, long sur- 
vive, for he was assassinated in St Andrews by one James Spence, who 
was in consequence beheaded. After the death of Hector, the Clan- 
Chattan remained tranquil during the remaining years of the minority 
of the young chief, who, according to Bishop Lesley, " wes sua well 
brocht up by the meenes of the erle of Murray and the laird of Phind- 
later in vertue, honestie, and civile policye, that after he had received 
the governement of his cuntrey, he was a mirrour of vertue to all the 
hieland captanis in Scotland."! But the young chieftain's " honestie and 
civile policye" not suiting the ideas of those who had concurred in the 
murder of his father, a conspiracy was formed against him by some of 
his nearest kinsmen to deprive him of his life, which unfortunately took 
effect. • 

The Highlands now enjoyed repose for some years. John Mackay 

• This is the number given by Bishop Lesley, whose account must be preferred to that 
of Sir R. Gordon, who states it at upwards of two hundred, as the bishop lived about a 
century before Sir Robert. 

t Sir R. Gordon, p. 100. f Hist. p. 138. 


/^ iTi died \n fifteen hundred and twenty-nine, and was succeeded by hi'j f 

/ brother, Donald, who remained quiet during the life of Adam, Ear 
^ of Sutherland, to whom his brother had twice granted his bond of ser- 

vice. But, upon the death of that nobleman, he began to molest the 
- L^ y^ inhabitants of Sutherland. In fifteen hundred and forty-two, he attacked 
/ ^/l / the village of Knockartol, which he burnt ; and at the same time he plun- 
dered Strathbroray. To oppose his farther progress, Sir Hugh Kennedy ' 
collected as many of the inhabitants of Sutherland as the shortness of the 
time would permit ; and, being accompanied by Gilbert Gordon of 
Gartay, John Murray of Aberscors, his son Hutcheon Murray, and 
Mac-Mhic-Sheumais of Killiernan, he attacked Mackay, quite unawares, 
near Alt-Na-Beth. Notwithstanding this unexpected attack, Mackay'* 
\ , ^\ men met their assailants with great firmness, but the Strathnaver mer 
were ultimately obliged to retreat with the loss of their booty, and a 
great number of slain, amongst whom was John Mackean-Mac-Angus, 
chief of Sliochd-Mhic-Iain-Mhic-Hutcheon, in Edderachilis. Donald 
Mackay was closely pursued, but he retreated with great skill, and, in 
the course of his retreat, killed William Macwilliam, who pressed hard 
upon him, with his own hands. Though closely pressed by Gilbert 
Gordon and Hutcheon Murray, he made good his retreat into Strath- 

By no means disheartened at his defeat, and anxious to blot out the 
stain ^hich it had thrown upon him, he soon returned into Sutherland 
with a fresh force, and encamped near Skibo. Hutcheon Murray col- 
lected some Sutherland men, and with them he attacked Mackay, and 
kept him in check till an additional force, which he expected, should 
arrive. As soon as Mackay saw this new body of men approaching, 
with which he was quite unable to contend, he retreated suddenly into 
his own country, leaving several of his men dead on the field. This 
affair was called the skirmish of Loch-Buy. This mode of annoyance, 
which continued for some time, was put an end to by the apprehension 
of Donald Mackay, who being brought before the earls of Huntly and 
Sutherland, was, by their command, committed a close prisoner to the 
castle of Foulis, where he remained a considerable time in captivity 
At last, by means of Donald Mac-Iain-Mhoir, a Strathnaver man, he 
effected his escape, and, returning home, reconciled himself with the 
^ earl of Sutherland, to whom he gave his bond of service and manrent, 

I 1 li Oi ^" ^^ eighth day of April, fifteen hundred and forty-nine. 
' 'I During the reign of James V., some respect was paid in the High- 

lands to the laws ; but the divisions which fell out amongst the nobility, 
the unquiet state of the nation during the minority of the infant queen, 
and the wars with England, relaxed the springs of government, and the 
consequence was, that the usual scenes of turbulence and oppression soon 
displayed themselves in the Highlands, accompanied with all those cir- 
cumstances of ferocity, which rendered them so revolting to humanity 
The Clanranald was particularly active in these lawless proceedings. 


This clan bore great enmity to Hugh, Lord Lovat ; and because Ran- 
ald, son of Donald Glass of Moidart, was sister's son of Lovat, they 
conceived a prejudice against him, dispossessed him of his lands, and 
put John Macranald, his cousin, in possession of the estate. Lovat 
took up the cause of his nephew, and restored him to the possession of 
his property ; but the restless clan dispossessed Ranald again, and laid 
waste a part of Lovat's' lands in Glenelg. These disorders did not escape 
the notice of the earl of Arran, the governor of the kingdom, who, by 
advice of his council, granted an especial commission to the earl of 
Huntly, making him lieutenant-general of all the Highlands, and of 
Orkney and Zetland. He also appointed the earl of Argyle, lieutenant 
of Argyle and the Isles. The earl of Huntly lost no time in raising a 
.arge army in the north, with which he marched, in May fifteen hundred 
and forty-four, attended by the Mackintoshes, Grants, and Frasers, 
against the clan Cameron and the clan Ranald, and the people of Moy- 
dart and Knoydart, whose principal captains were Ewen Allenson, 
Ronald M'Coneilglas, and John Moydart. These had wasted and plun- 
dered the whole country of Urquhart and Glenmorriston, belonging to 
the laird of Grant, and the country of Abertarf, Strathglas, and others, 
the property of Lord Lovat. They had also taken absolute possession of 
these different territories, as their own properties, which they intended to 
possess and enjoy in all time coming. But, by the mediation of the 
tarl of Argyle, they immediately dislodged themselves upon the earl of 
Huntly's appearance, and retired to their own territories in the west 
On restoring Ranald to his possession, and clearing the lands of Lord 
Lovat and the laird of Grant, of the intruders, the earl returned to the 
low country with his army. 

In returning to his own country, Lovat was accompanied by the 
Grants and Mackintoshes as far as Gloy, afterwards called the Nine- 
Mile- Water, and they even offered to escort him home in case of dan- 
ger ; but, having no apprehensions, he declined, and they returned home 
by Badenoch, This was a fatal error on the part of Lovat, for as soon 
as he arrived at Letterfinlay, he was informed that the Clanranald were 
at hand, in full march, to intercept him. To secure an important pass, 
he despatched lain-Cleireach, one of his principal officers, with fifty 
men ; but. from some cause or other, lain-Cleireach did not accomplish 
his object ; and as soon as Lovat came to the north end of Loch Lochy, 
lie perceived the Clanranald descending the hill from the west, to the 
number of about five hundred, divided into seven companies. Lovat 
was thus placed in a position in which he could neither refuse nor avoid 
battle. The day, (3d July,) being extremely hot, Lovat's men, who 
amounted to about three hundred, stript to the shirts, from which cir- 
cumstance, the battle was called Blar-Nan-Leine^ i. e. the Field of Shirts. 
A sort of skirmishing warfare at first took place, first with bows and 
arrows, which lasted a considerable time, until both sides had expended 
tlicir shafts. The combatants then drew their swords, and rushed ui^ 



each other with fierce and deadly intent. The slaughter was tremen- 
dous, and few escaped on either side. Lord Lovat with three hundred 
of the surname of Fraser, and other followers, were left dead on the 
field. Lovat's eldest son, a youth of great accomplishments, who had 
received his education in France, from whence he had lately arrived, 
v/as mortally wounded, and taken prisoner. He died within three days. 
Great as was the loss on the side of the Frasers, that on the opposite 
side was comparatively still greater. According to a tradition handed 
down, only four of jme Frasers, and ten of the Clanranald, remained 
alive. The darkness of the night alone put an end to the combat. This 
was an unfortunate blow to the Clanfraser, which would have been al- 
most entirely annihilated ; but, for the hajDpy circumstance, as reported, 
that the wives of eighty of the Frasers, who were slain, were pregnant 
at the time, and were each of them afterwards delivered of a male 

As soon as intelligence of this disaster was brought to the earl of 
Huntly, he again returned with an army, entered Lochaber, which he 
laid waste, and apprehended many of the leading men of the hostile 
tribes, whom he put to death. The two principal ringleaders, Ewen 
Allensone, or Ewin-Mac-Allan, and Ronald M'Coneilglase, or Rey- 
nald-Mac-Donald-Glas, as they are respectively named by Bishop 
Lesley and Sir Robert Gordon, having concealed themselves, the earl 
compelled their people to give up these chieftains, and other leading 
men of the tribes to him. These he carried with him to Perth, 
where, after being detained as prisoners a considerable time, they were 
brought to trial in presence of the principal nobles and barons of the 
north of Scotland, condemned and executed. The two chiefs were be- 
headed, and, as a terror to others, their heads were placed on the gates 
of the town. John Moidart, on hearing the fate of his lawless compa- 
nions, fled into the isles, where he remained for some time. 

In consequence of a charge made against Andrew Stuart, Bishop of 
Caithness, of having instigated the clan Gun to the murder of the laird 
of Duffus in Thurso, the bishop retired from his charge, and afterwards 
went into banishment in England. During the vacancy in the diocese, 
the earl of Caithness and Donald Mackay, taking advantage of the civil 
dissentions of the state, took possession of the bishop's lands, and levied 
the rents for the behoof, as they pretended, of the expatriated bishop. 
Mackay took possession of the castle of Skibo, one of the bishop's pa- 
laces, which he fortified, and placed under the charge of Neill - Mac- 
William. The earl of Caithness, at the same time, possessed himself 
of the castle of Strabister, another residence of the bishop. But, upon 
the restoration of the bishop, both the earl and Mackay absolutely re- 
fused to surrender to him these, or any other parts of his possessions, or 
to account to him for the rents they had received in his name. The 

• Losley, p. 194.— Sir H. Gordon, p. 1C9, 110.— Shaw's Moray, p. 5>C5, 266. 


earls of Huntly and Sutherland, who were in Edinburgh at the time, 
hearing of this refusal, appointed captain James Cullen, an experienced 
naval and military officer, to go before them into Sutherland, and ascer- 
tain the exact state of matters. The people of the country, who were 
favourable to the bishop's claims, immediately assembled on the arrival 
of Cullen at Dornoch, with a resolution to besiege the castle of Ski bo 
But the Strathnaver men, who kept possession, hearing of their approach, 
were afraid to stand a siege, and withdrew privately from the castle, 
and went home to Strathnaver ; but, being closely pursued, some of 
them were cut off. On the return of the earls of Huntly and Suther- 
land to the north, they summoned the earl of Caithness and Mackay to 
appear before them at Helmsdale, to answer for their intromissions with 
the bishop's rents, and for the wrongs they had done. The earl of 
Caithness immediately obeyed the call, and although the river of 
Helmsdale was greatly swollen by recent heavy rains, he, in order to 
show his ready submission, crossed it on foot, to the great danger of his 
life, as the water was as high as his breast. Having made a final and 
satisfactory arrangement, the earl returned into Caithness. Mackay 
was forced to appear with great unwillingness ; and, although he was 
pardoned, the earls committed him a prisoner to the castle of Foulis.* 

The great power conferred on the earl of Huntly, as Lieutenant 
General in the north of Scotland, and the promptitude and severity with 
which he put down the insurrections of some of the chiefs alluded to, 
raised up many enemies against him. As he in company with the earl 
of Sutherland was about to proceed to France for the purpose of convey- 
ing the queen regent to that country, in the year fifteen hundred and 
fifty, a conspiracy was formed against him, at the head of which was 
Mackintosh, chief of the Clan Chattan. This conspiracy being dis- 
covered to the earl, he ordered Mackintosh to be immediately appre- 
hended and brought to Strathbogie, where he was beheaded in the 
month of August of that year. His lands were also forfeited at the same 
time. This summary proceeding excited the sympathy and roused the 
indignation of the friends of the deceased chief, particularly of the earl 
of Cassillis. A commotion was about to ensue, but matters were adjust- 
ed, for a time, by the prudence of the queen regent, who recalled the 
act of forfeiture and restored Mackintosh's heir to all his father's lands. 
But the Clan Chattan was determined to avail themselves of the first 
favourable opportunity of being revenged upon the earl, which they, 
therefore, anxiously looked for. As Lauchlan Mackintosh, a near kins- 
man of the chief, was suspected of having betrayed his chief to the 
earl, the clan entered his castle of Pettie by stealth, slew him and ban- 
ished all his dependants from the country of the clan. 

About the same time the provhice of Sutherland again became rhe 
scene of some commotions. The earl having occasion to leave Lome, 

• Sir K. Gordon, p. 118, 113. 




intrusted the government of the country to Alexander Gordon, his bro- 
ther, who ruled it with great juGtice and severity; but the people, dislik- 
ing the restraints put upon them by Alexander, created a tumult, and 
placed John Sutherland, son of Alexander Sutherland, the bastard, at 
their head. Seizing the favourable opportunity, as it appeared to 
them, when Alexander Gordon was attending divine service in tlie 
church at Golspikirktoun, they proceeded to attack him, but receiving 
notice of their intentions, he collected the little company he had about 
him, and went out of church resolutely to meet them. Alarmed at seeing 
him and his party approach, the people immediately dispersed and re- 
turned every man to his own house. But William Murray, son of Caen 
Murray, one of the family of Pulrossie, indignant at the affront offered 
to Alexander Gordon, shortly afterwards killed John Sutherland upon 
the Nether Green of Dunrobin at the west corner of the garden, in re- 
venge for which murder William Murray was himself thereafter slain by 
the Laird of Clyne. 

The Mackays also took advantage of the earl of Sutherland's absence, 
to plunder and lay waste the country. Y-Mackay, son of Donald, as- 
sembled the Strathnaver men and entered Sutherland, but Alexander 
Gordon forced him back into Strathnaver, and not content with acting 
on the defensive, he entered Mackay's country, which he wasted, and 
carried off a large booty in goods and cattle, in the year fifteen hundred 
and fifty-one. Mackay, in his turn, retaliated, and this system of mutual 
aggression and spoliation continued for several years.* 

During the absence of the earl of Huntly in France, John of Moy- 
dart, chief of the Clanranald, returned from the isles and recommenced 
his usual course of rapine. The queen regent, on her return from 
France, being invested with full authority, sent the earl of Huntly on 
an expedition to the north, for the purpose of apprehending Clanranald 
and putting an end to his outrages. The Earl having mustered a con- 
siderable force, chiefly Highlanders and of the Clan Chattan, passed into 
Moydart and Knoydart, but his operations were paralyzed by disputes 
in his camp. The chief and his men having abandoned their own coun- 
try, the earl proposed to pursue them in their retreats among the fast- 
nesses of the Highlands; but his principal officers, who were chiefly 
from the Lowlands, unaccustomed to such a mode of warfare in such a 
country, demurred; and as the earl was afraid to entrust himself with 
the Clan Chattan, who owed him a deep grudge on account of the exe 
cution of their last chief, he abandoned the enterprize and returned to 
the low country. Sir Robert Gordon says that the failure of the expe- 
dition was owing to a tumult raised in the earl's camp by the Clan 
Chattan, who returned home; but we are rather disposed to consider 
Bishop Lesley's account, which we have followed, as the most correct. |- 
The failure of this expedition gave great offence to the queen, who, 

• Sir U. Gordon, p. l.'-3. \ Lcsl.y, \\ 251. 


instigated it is supposed by Huntly's enemies, attributed it to negli- 
gence on liis part. Tlie consequence was, that the earl was committed 
a prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh in the month of October, where he 
remained till the month of March following. He was compelled to re- 
nounce the earldom of Moray and the lordship of Abernethy, with his 
tacks and possessions in Orkney and Zetland, and the tacks of the 
lands of the earldom of Mar and of the lordship of Strathdie, of which 
he was bailie and steward, and he was moreover condemned to a banish- 
ment of five years in France. But as he was about to leave the king- 
dom, the Queen, taking a more favourable view of his conduct, recalled 
the sentence of banishment, and restored him to the office of Chan- 
cellor, of which he had been deprived ; and to make this act of leni- 
ency somewhat palatable to the earl's enemies, the queen exacted a 
heavy pecuniary fine from the earl. 

As the Highlands still continued in a state of misrule, principally 
owing to the conduct of John of Moidart, the queen sent the earl of 
Athole to the Highlands, the following year, with a special commission to 
apprehend this turbulent chief; and he succeeded so well by negotiation 
as to prevail upon John, two of his sons, and some of his kinsmen, to 
submit themselves to the queen, who pardoned them, but ordered them 
to be detained prisoners in the castle of Methven where they were well 
treated. Disliking such restraint, they effected their escape into their 
own country privately, where they again began their usual restless course 
of life. 

The great disorders which prevailed in the Highlands at this time, in- 
duced the queen-regent to undertake a journey thither in order to punish 
these breaches of the law, and to repress existing tumults. She according- 
ly arrived at Inverness in the month of July, fifteen hundred and fifty- 
five, where she was met by John, Earl of Sutherland, and George, Earl 
of Caithness. Although the latter nobleman was requested to bring his /^"^C"^-^ 
countrymen along with him to the court, he neglected or declined to do ''^ 
so, and he was therefore committed to prison at Inverness, Aberdeen, 
and Edinburgh, successively, and he was not restored to liberty till he 
paid a considerable sum of money. Y-Mackay of Far, was also sum- 
moned to appear before the queen at Inverness, to answer for his spolia- 
tions committed in the country of Sutherland during the absence of Earl 
John in France ; but he refused to appear. Whereupon the queen granted 
a commission to the earl of Sutherland, to bring Mackay to justice. The 
earl accordingly entered Strathnaver with a great force, sacking and 
spoiling every thing in his way, and possessing himself of all the princi- 
pal positions to prevent Mackay's escape. Mackay, however, avoided 
the earl, and as he declined to fight, the earl laid siege to the castle of 
Borwe, the orincipal strength in Strathnaver, scarcely two miles distant 
from Far, which he took after a short siege, and hanged Ruaridh-Mac- 
lain-Mhoir, the commander. This fort the earl completely demolished. 

While the earl of Sutherland was engaged in the siege, Mackay en- 





tered Sutherland secretly, and burnt the church of Loth. He thereaf- 
ter went to the village of Knockartoll, where he met Mackenzie and his 
countrymen in Strathbroray. A slight skirmish took place between 
them ; but Mackay and his men fled after he had lost Angus-Mackean- 
voir one of his commanders, and several of his followers. Mackenzie 
was thereupon appointed by the earl to protect Sutherland from the 
incursions of Mackay during his stay in Strathnaver. Having been 
defeated again by Mackenzie, and seeing no chance of escape, Mackay 
surrendered himself, and was carried south, and committed a prisoner 
to the castle of Edinburgh, in which he remained a considerable time 
During the queen's stay in the north, many notorious delinquents were 
brought to trial, condemned and executed. 

During Mackay 's detention in Edinburgh, John Mor-Mackay, who 
took charge of his kinsman's estate, seizing the opportunity of the earl 
of Sutherland's absence in the south of Scotland, entered Sutherland 
at the head of a determined body of Strathnaver men, and spoiled 
and wasted the east corner of that province, and burnt the chapel of 
Si Ninian. Mac-Mhic-Sheumais, chief of the Clan-Gun, the laird of 
Clyne, the Terrell of the Doill, and James Mac-William having col- 
lected a body of Sutherland men, pursued the Strathnaver men, whom 
they overtook at the foot of the hill called Ben-Moir in Berridell. Here 
they laid an ambush for them, and having, by favour of a fog, passed 
their sentinels, they unexpectedly surprised Mackay 's men, and attacked 
them with great fury. The Strathnaver men made an obstinate resist- 
ance, but were at length overpowered. Many of them were killed, and 
others drowned in the water of Garwary. Mackay himself escaped with 
great difficulty. This was one of the severest defeats the Strathnaver 
men ever experienced, except at the battle of Knoken-dow-Reywird. 

On the release of Mackay from his confinement in the castle of Edin- 
burgh, he was employed in the w^ars upon the borders, against the 
English, in which he acquitted himself courageously ; and on his return 
to Strathnaver he submitted himself to the earl of Sutherland, with 
whom he lived in peace during the remainder of the earl's life. But 
Mackay incurred the just displeasure of the tribe of Slaight-ean-Voir by 
the committal of two crimes of the deepest dye. Having imbibed ii 
violent affection for the wife of Tormaid-Mac-lain-Mlioir, the chicftair 
of that tribe, he, in order to accomplish his object, slew the chief, after 
M-hich he violated his wife, by whom he had a son called Donald Balloch 
Mackay. The insulted clan flew to arms ; but they were defeated at 
Durines, by the murderer and adulterer, after a sharp skirmish. Three 
of the principal men of the tribe who had given themselves up, trusting 
to Mackay *s clemency, were beheaded.* 

In the year fifteen hundred and sixty-one, several petty feuds occur- 
red in Sutherland and Caithness. Hugh Murray, of Aberscors, killed 

* Sir R. Gordon, p. 136. 


Imhear-Mac-Iain-Mhic-Thomais, a gentleman of the Siol-Thomais, for 
which act he incurred the displeasure of the earl of Sutherland. Mur- 
ray thereupon fled into Caithness, and sought the protection of the earl 
of Caithness. Houcheon Murray, the father of Hugh, being suspected 
by the earl of Sutherland as having been privy to the murder, was ap- 
prehended and imprisoned in Dunrobin castln ; but after a slight con- 
finement he was released as innocent, and by his mediation his son 
Hugh was restored to the favour of the earl. No reconciliation, how, 
ever, took place between the Murrays and the Siol-Thomais, who con- 
tinued for a long period at variance. About the same time, William 
and Angus Sutherland, and the other Sutherlands of Berridale, killed 
several of the earl of Caithness people, and wasted the lands of the 
Clynes in that country. For these acts they were banished by the earl 
from Caithness ; but they again returned, and being assisted by Hugh 
Murray of Aberscors, they took the castle of Berridale, laid waste the 
country, and molested the people of Caithness with their incursions. 
By the mediation of the earl of Sutherland, William and Angus Suther- 
land, and their accomplices obtained a pardon from Queen Mary, which 
so exasperated the earl of Caithness, that he imbibed a mortal hatred 
not only against the earl of Sutherland, but also against the Murrays, 
and all the inhabitants of Sutherland.* 

Amongst the many acts which disgrace the memory of James, Earl 
of Moray, the bastard brother of queen Mary, the murder of Alexan- 
ier Gun, son of John Robson, chief of the Clan-Gun, in the year fif- 
teen hundred and sixty-five, must not be overlooked. The cause of the 
earl's antipathy was this : — On one occasion, the earls of Sutherland and 
Huntly happened to meet the earl of Moray directly in the face on the 
high street of Aberdeen. Alexander Gun was then in the service of the 
earl of Sutherland, and as he was walking in front of his master, he 
declined to give the earl of Moray any part of the height of the street, 
and forced him and his company to give way. As he considered this 
to be a deadly affront put upon him, he resolved upon revenge, and 
seizing the opportunity of the earl of Sutherland's absence in Flanders, 
he, by means of Andrew Monroe of Miltoun, entrapped Gun, and 
made him a prisoner at the Delvines, near the town of Nairn, from 
whence he was taken to Inverness, and after a mock-trial, was executed. 
Alexander Gun is reported to have been a very able and strong man, 
endowed with many good qualities.f 

George, earl of Caithness, who had long borne a mortal hatred to 
John, earl of Sutherland, now projected a scheme for cutting him off, as 
well as his countess, who was big with child, and their only son, Alexander 
Gordon ; the earl and countess were accordingly both poisoned at Helms- 
dale while at supper by Isobel Sinclair, wife of Gilbert Gordon of Gar- 
tay, and sister of William Sinclair of Dumbaith, instigated, it is said, by 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 13Q f Ibid. p. U4 


the earl ; but their son, Alexander, made a very narrow escape, not 
having returned in time from a hunting excursion, to join his father 
and mother at supper. On Alexander's return the earl had become 
fully aware of the danger of his situation, and he was thus prevented 
by his father from participating in any part of the supper which re- 
mained, and after taking an affectionate and parting farewell, and re- 
commending him to the protection of God and of his dearest friends, he 
sent him to Dunrobin the same night without his supper. The earl and 
his lady were carried next morning to Dunrobin, where they died 
within five days thereafter, in the month of July, fifteen hundred and 
sixty-seven, and were buried in the cathedral church at Dornoch. 
Pretending to cover himself from the imputation of being concerned 
in this murder, the earl of Caithness punished some of the earl's most 
faithful servants under the colour of avenging his death ; but the de- 
ceased earl's friends being determined to obtain justice, apprehended 
Isobel Sinclair, and sent her to Edinburgh to stand her trial, where, 
after being tried and condemned, she died on the day appointed for 
her execution. During all the time of her illness she vented the most 
dreadful imprecations upon her cousin, the earl, who had seduced her 
to commit the horrid act. Had this woman succeeded in cutting oft 
the earl's son, her own eldest son, John Gordon, but for the extraor- 
dinary circumstances of his death to be noticed, would have succeeded 
to the earldom, as he was the next male heir. This youth happen- 
ing to be in the house when his mother had prepared the poison, be- 
came extremely thirsty, and called for a drink. One of his mother's 
servants, not aware of the preparation, presented to the youth a por- 
tion of the liquid into which the poison had been infused, which he 
drank. This occasioned his death within two days, a circumstance 
which, together with the appearances of the body after death, gave a 
clue to the discovery of his mother's guilt.* 

Taking advantage of the calamity which had befallen the house of 
Sutherland, and the minority of the young earl, now only fifteen years 
of age, Y-Mackay of Far, who had formed an alliance with the earl of 
Caithness, invaded the country of Sutherland, wasted the barony of 
Skibo, entered the town of Dornoch, and, upon the pretence of a 
quarrel with the Murrays, by whom it was chiefly inhabited, set fire to 
it, in which outrage he was assisted by the laird of Duffus. This hap- 
pened in the year fifteen hundred and sixty-ceven. These measures were 
only preliminary to a design which the earl of Caithness had formed to 
get the earl of Sutherland into his hands, but he had the cunning to 
conceal his intentions in the meantime, and to instigate Mackay to act 
as he wished without appearing to be in any way concerned. 

In pursuance of his design upon Alexander, the young earl of Su- 
therland, the earl of Caithness prevailed upon Robert Stuart, bishop 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 147. 


of Caithness, to write a letter to the governor of the castle of Skibo, 
iji which the earl of Sutherland resided, to deliver up the castle to him ; 
a request with which the governor complied. Having taken posses- 
sion of the castle, the earl carried off the young man into Caithness, 
and although only fifteen years of age, he got him married to Lady 
Barbara Sinclair, his daughter, then aged thirty-two years. Y-Mackay 
was the paramour of this lady, and for continuing the connexion with 
him she was afterwards divorced by her husband. 

After Y-Mackay had burned Dornoch, he made an attack upon 
Hugh Murray, son of Houcheon Murray of Aberscors, in the village of 
Pitfur in Strafchfleet, took him prisoner, and killed his brother, Donald 
Roy-Murray, and a kinsman named Thomas Murray, A few of the 
inhabitants of Sutherland went in pursuit of Mackay, whom they over- 
took in the Breachat ; but Houcheon Murray prevented them from at- 
tacking him, as he was afraid that his son, then a prisoner in Mackay's 
hands, would be killed by the Strathnaver men to prevent a rescue. 
With a few words of defiance, and some arrows discharged on either 
side, according to the ordinary custom of commencing skirmishes, the 
matter ended, and the Sutherland men returned to their homes. The 
interference of Houcheon Murray was certainly judicious, for Mackay 
delivered up his son after a short captivity. As the tribe of the Siol- 
Phaill had been the cause of the dissension between Mackay and the 
Murrays, a feud occurred on the release of Hugh between the Murrays 
and the Siol-Phaill, in which lives were sacrificed on both sides, and 
which continued till a reconciliation was effected by the earl of Suther- 
land on coming of age.* 

The earl of Caithness having succeeded in his wishes in obtaining pos- 
session of the earl of Sutherland, entered the earl's country, and took 
possession of Dunrobin castle, in which he fixed his residence. He 
also brought the earl of Sutherland along with him, but he treated him 
meanly, and he burnt all the papers belonging to the hou?se of Suther- 
land he could lay his hands on. Cruel and avaricious, he, under the 
pretence of vindicating the law for imaginary crimes, expelled many of 
the ancient families in Sutherland from that country, put many of 
the inhabitants to death, disabled those he banished, in their persons, by 
new and unheard of modes of torture, and stripped them of all their 
wealth. To be suspected of favouring the house of Sutherland, and to 
be wealthy, were deemed capital crimes by this oppressor. 

As the earl of Sutherland did not live on friendly terms with his wife 
on account of her licentious connexion with Mackay, and as there ap- 
peared no chance of any issue, the earl of Caithness formed the base 
design of cutting off the earl of Sutherland, and marrying William 
Sinclair, his second son, to Lady Margaret Gordon, the eldest sister of 
the earl of Sutherland, whom he had also gotten into his hands, witlj 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 151. 


the view of making William earl of Sutherland. The better to conceal 
his intentions the earl of Caithness made a journey south to Edinburgh, 
and gave the necessary instructions to those in his confidence to despatch 
the earl of Sutherland ; but some of his trusty friends having received 
private intelligence of the designs of the earl of Caithness from some 
persons who were privy thereto, they instantly set about measures for 
defeating them by getting possession of the earl of Sutherland's person. 
Accordingly, under cloud of night, they came quietly to the burn of 
Golspie, in the vicinity of Dunrobin, where, concealing themselves to 
prevent discovery, they sent Alexander Gordon of Sidderay to the 
castle, disguised as a pedler, for the purpose of warning the earl of 
Sutherland of the danger of his situation, and devising means of escape. 
Being made acquainted with the design upon his life, and the plans of 
his friends for rescuing him, the earl, early the following morning, pro- 
posed to the residents in the castle, under whose charge he was, to ac- 
company him on a small excursion in the neighbourhood. This propo- 
sal seemed so reasonable in itself, that, although he was perpetually 
watched by the earl of Caithness* servants, and his liberty greatly 
restrained, they at once agreed ; and, going out, the earl being aware of 
the ambush laid by his friends, led his keepers directly into the snare be- 
fore they were aware of danger. The earl's friends thereupon rushed 
from their hiding-place, and seizing him, conveyed him safely out of 
the country of Sutherland to Strathbogie in the year fifteen hundred and 
sixty-nine. As soon as the earl of Caithness' retainers heard of the 
escape of earl Alexander, they collected a party of men favourable to 
their interests, and went in hot pursuit of him as far as Port-ne-Coulter •. 
but they found that the earl and his friends had just crossed the ferry. 
In the act of crossing they were overtaken by a great tempest which 
suddenly arose, and made a very narrow escape from drowning.* 

Shortly after this affair a quarrel ensued between the Monroes and 
the Clan Kenzie, two very powerful Rosshirc clans which happened thus : 
Lesley, the celebrated Bishop of Ross, had made over to his cousin, the 
Laird of Balquhain, the right and title of the castle of the Canon ry of 
Ross, together with the castle lands. Notwithstanding of this grant, the 
Regent Murray, had given the custody of this castle to Andrew Monroe 
of Milntown; and to make Lesley bear with the loss, the Regent promised 
him some of the lands of the Barony of Fintry in Buchan, but on condition 
that he should cede to Monroe the castle and castle lands of the 
Canonry; but the untimely and unexpected death of the Regent inter- 
rupted this arrangement, and Andrew Monroe did not, of course, ob- 
tain the title to the castle and castle lands as he expected. Yet Monroe 
had the address to obtain permission from the earl of Lennox dur- 
ing his regency, and afterwards from the earl of Mar, his successor in 
tJiat office, to get possession of the castle. The Clan Kenzie grudg- 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. IW. 


iHg to see Monroe in possession, and being desirous to get hold of the 
castle themselves, they purchased Lesley's right, and, by virtue thereof^ 
demanded delivery of the castle. Monroe refused to accede to this de- 
mand, on which the clan laid siege to the castle ; but Monroe defended 
it for three years at the expense of many lives on both sides. It was 
then delivered up to the Clan Kenzie under the act of pacification.* 

No attempt was made by the earl of Sutherland, during his minority, 
to recover his possessions from the earl of Caithness. In the meantime 
the latter, disappointed and enraged at the escape of his destined prey, 
vexed and annoyed still farther the partisans of tlie Sutherland family. 
In particular, he directed his vengeance against the Murrays, and made 
William Sutherland of Evelick, brother to the Laird of DufFus, appre- 
hend John Croy-Murray, under the pretence of bringing him to justice. 
This proceeding roused the indignation of Hugh Murray of Aberscors, 
who assembled his friends, and made several incursions upon the lands 
of Evelick, Pronsies, and Riercher. They also laid waste several vil- 
lages belonging to the Laird of DufFus, from which they carried off some 
booty, and apprehending a gentleman of the Sutherlands, they detained 
him as an hostage for the safety of John Croy-Murray. Upon this the 
Laird of Duffus collected all his kinsmen and friends, together with the 
Siol-Phaill at Skibo, and proceeded to the town of Dornoch, with the in- 
tention of burning it. But the inhabitants, aided by the Murrays, went 
out to meet the enemy, whom they courageously attacked and over- 
threw, and pursued to the gates of Skibo. Besides killing several 
of DufFus' men they made some prisoners, whom they exchanged for 
John Croy-Murray. This affair was called the skirmish of Torran-Roy. 

The Laird of DufFus, who was father-in-law to the earl of Caithness, 
and supported him in all his plans, immediately sent notice of this disas- 
ter to the earl, who without delay sent his eldest son, John, Master of 
Caithness, with a large party of countrymen and friends, including 
Y-Mackay and his countrymen, to attack the Murrays in Dornoch. 
They besieged the town and castle, which were both manfully defended 
by the Murrays and their friends ; but the Master of Caithness, favoured 
by the darkness of the night, set fire to the cathedral, the steeple 
of which, however, was preserved. Afler the town had been reduced, 
the Master of Caithness attacked the castle and the steeple of the church, 
mto which a body of men had thrown themselves, both of which held 
out for the space of a week, and would probably have resisted much 
longer, but for the interference of mutual friends of the parties, by whose 
mediation the Murrays surrendered the castle and the seeeple of the 
church; and as hostages for the due performance of other conditions, 
they delivered up Thomas Murray, son of Houcheon Murray of Aberscors, 
Houcheon Murray, son of Alexander Mac -Sir -Angus, and John 
Murray, son of Thomas Murray, the brother of John Murray of Aber- 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 155. ^ 


scors. But the earl of Caithness refused to ratify the treaty which his 
son had entered into with the Murrays, and afterwards basefy beheaded 
the three hostages. These occurrences took place in the year fifteen 
hundred and seventy.* 

♦ Sir H. Gor.Jcn. o. \f:6. 


Dispersion of tlie Miirrays and other friends of the Earl of Sutherland — Attempt to 
detach ]\Iackay from the Earl of Caithness — Breaks his engagement— Irruption of the 
SeilUfaille into Strathfieet — Arrest and imprisonment of John, Master of Caithness, by 
his father— Death of Mackay — Clan Gun attacked by the Strathnaver men — The latter 
defeated — The Slaight-Ean-Aberigh and the Slaight-Ean-Voir attack the Clan Gun 
— Attack on the Slaight-Ean-Aberigh by William Mackay and the ."Slaighl-Ean- 
Roy — Feud between the Clan Gun and tlie Slaight-Ean-Aberigh — Attack on the Isle 
of Assint — Meeting of the Earls of Caithness and Sutherland at Elgin — Cotnbinatior. 
against the Clan Gun — Skirmish of Clan-tom- Richie — Battle of Aldgovvn — Executior 
of the Chief of the Clan Gun in Caithness — Another meeting between the two Earls- 
New confederacy against the Clan Gun — Departure of the Clan from Caithness- 
Defeated near Loch Broom — Feud between the Macleans and Macdonakis of the Isles 
—Angus Macdonald of Kintyre arrested by Sir Lauchlan Maclean — His liberation — 
Sir Lauchlan arrested by Macdonald — His )-elease— Invades Ila — Mutual ravages in 
JNIull and Kintyre — Sir Lauchlan tampers with Mackean of Ardinmurchie — Imprison- 
ment of Maclean and Macdonald in the castle of Edinburgh — New disputes between 
the Houses of Sutherland and Caithness. 

The Murrays and the other friends of the Sutherland family, no 
longer able to protect themselves from tlie vengeance of the earl of Caith- 
ness, dispersed themselves into different countries, there to wait for more 
favourable times when they might return to their native soil without 
danger. The Murrays went to Stratlibogie, where Earl Alexander 
then resided. Hugh Gordon of Drummoy retired to Orkney, where he 
married a lady named Ursla Tulloch; but he frequently visited his 
friends in Sutherland, in spite of many snares laid for him bj'- the earl 
of Caithness, while secretly going and returning through Caithness. 
Hugh Gordon's brothers took refuge with the Murrays at Stratlibogie. 
John Gray of Skibo, and his son Gilbert, retired to St Andrew's, \v\wyc, 
their friend Robert, bishop of Caithness, then resided, and Mac-Mhic- 
Sheumais of Strathully went to Glengarr3\ 

As the alliance of such a powerful and warlike chief as Mackay, would 
have been of great importance to the Sutherland interest, an attempt 
was made to detach him from the earl of Caithness. The plan appears 
to have originated with Hugh Murray of Aberscors, who made repeated 
visits to Strathbogie, to consult with the earl of Sutherland and liis 
friends on this subject, and afterwards went into Strathnaver, and held a 
conference with Mackay, whom he prevailed upon to accompany him to 
Strathbogie. Mackay then entered into an engagement with the earl 
of Huntiy and the earl of Sutherland, to assist the latter against the eail 

i- 2 c 


of Caithness, in consideration of which, and on payment of £300 Scots, 
he obtained from the earl of Huntly the heritable right and title of the 
lands of Strathnaver; but Mackay, influenced by Barbara Sinclair, the 
wife of the earl of Sutherland, with whom he now publicly cohabited, 
broke his engagement, and continued to oppress the earl's followers and 

About this time the tribe called the Siol-Phaill, made an incursion 
into Strathfleet, and attacked Hugh Murray of Aberscors. In a skir- 
mish which took place, the Siol-Phaill took three of the Murray 
prisoners, whom they afterwards delivered up to the earl of Caithness, 
who put them to death. In revenge for this cruel act, Hugh Murray 
afterwards killed two of the principal men of the tribe.* 

From some circumstances which have not transpired, the earl of 
Caithness became suspicious of his son John, the Master of Caithnes?, 
as having, in connexion with Mackay, a design upon his life. To put 
an end to the earl's suspicion, Mackay advised John to go to Girnigo, 
(castle Sinclair,) and to submit himself to his father's pleasure, a request 
with which the Master complied; but, after arriving at Girnigo, he 
was, while conversing with his father, arrested by a party of armed men, 
who, upon a secret signal being given by the earl, had rushed in at the 
chamber door. He was instantly fettered and thrust into prison within 
the castle, where, after a miserable captivity of seven years, he died, a 
prey to famine and vermin. 

Mackay, who had accompanied the Master to Girnigo, and who in all 
probability would have shared the same fate, escaped and returned home 
to Strathnaver, where he died, within four months thereafter, of grief and 
remorse for the many bad actions of his life. During the minority of 
his son Houcheon, John Mor-Mackay, the cousin, and John Beg- 
Mackay, the bastard son of Y-Mackay, took charge of the estate ; but 
John Mor-Mackay was speedily removed from his charge by the earl of 
Caithness, who, considering him as a favourer of the earl of Sutherland, 
caused him to be apprehended and carried into Caithness, where he was 
detained in prison till his death. During this time, John Robson, the 
chief of the Clan Gun, in Caithness and Strathnaver, became a depen- 
dant on the earl of Sutherland, and acted as his factor in collecting the 
rents and duties of the bishop's lands within Caithness which belonged 
to the earl. This connexion was exceedingly disagreeable to the earl of 
Caithness, who in consequence too'K a grudge at John Robson, and to 
gratify his spleen, he instigated Houcheon Mackay to lay waste the 
lands of the Clan Gun, in the Brea-Moir, in Caithness, without the 
knowledge of Joiin Beg-Mackay, his brother. As the Clan Gun had 
always been friftndly to the family of Mackay, John Beg-Mackay was 
greatly exasperated at the conduct of the earl, in enticing the young 
chief to commit such an outrage; but he had it not in his power to 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 163. 


make any reparation to the injured clan. John Robson the chief, how- 
ever, assisted by Alexander, earl of Sutherland, invaded Strathnaver and 
made ample retaliation. Meeting the Strathnaver men at a place called 
Creach-Drumi-Doun, he attacked and defeated them, killing several of 
them, and chiefly those who had accompanied Houcheon Mackay in his 
expedition to the Brea-Moir. He then carried off a large quantity oi 
booty, which he divided among the Clan Gun of Strathully, who had 
suffered by Houcheon Mackay 's invasion.* 

The earl of Caithness having resolved to avenge himself on John 
Beg-Mackay, for the displeasure shown by him at the conduct of 
Houcheon Mackay, and also on the Clan Gun, prevailed upon Neill- 
Mac-Iain Mac-William, chief of the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, and James 
Mac-Rory, chief of the Sliochd-Iain-Mhoir, to attack them. Accord- 
ingly, in the month of September, fifteen hundred and seventy-nine, 
these two chiefs, with their followers, entered Balnekill in Durines, 
during the night-time, 'and slew John Beg-Mackay, and William Mac- 
Iain-Mac-Rob, the brother of John Robson, and some of their people. 
The friends of the deceased were not in a condition to retaliate, but 
they kept up the spirit of revenge so customary in those times, and only 
waited a favourable opportunity to gratify it. This did not occur till ^^ 

several years thereafter. In the year fifteen hundred and eighty-seven. / C? *S / 
James Mac-Rory, "a fyne gentleman and a good commander," accord- / 

ing to Sir Robert Gordon, was assassinated by Donald Balloch-Mackay, 
the brother of John Beg-Mackay ; and two j^ears thereafter John 
Mackay, the son of John Beg, attacked Neill-Mac-Iain-Mac-William, 
whom he wounded severely, and cut off some of his followers. *' This 
Neill (says Sir R. Gordon) heir mentioned, wes a good captain, bold, 
craftie, of a verie good witt, and quick resolution." Shortly after these 
events the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich were attacked in Seyzer in Strathnaver 
by William Mackay, brother of John ^Q%y and the Sliochd-Iain-Roy, 
and many of them killed. 

After the death of John Beg-Mackay, and William Mac-Iain-Mac- 
Rob, a most deadly and inveterate feud followed, between the Clan Gun 
and the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, but no recital of the details has been 
handed down to us. " The long, the many, the horrible encounters 
(observes Sir R. Gordon) which happened between these two trybes, 
with the bloodshed, and infinit spoills committed in every pairt of the 
diocy of Catteynes by them and their associats, are of so disordered 
and troublesome memorie, that, what with their asperous names, together 
with the confusion of place, tymes, and persons, would yet be (no doubt) 
a warr to the reader to overlook them ; and therefor, to favor myne 
oune paines, and his who should get little profite or delight thereby, I 
doe pass them over."-!- 

In the year fifteen hundred and eighty-five, a quarrel took place be- 

• Sh- R. Gordon, p. 173. f Hist. p. 174 



twpen Neill Houcheonson, and Donald Neilson, the Laird of Assint, who 
had married Houcheon Mackay's sister. The cause of Donald Neilson 
was espoused by Houcheon Mackay, and the Clan Gun, who came with 
an army out of Caithness and Strathnaver, to besiege Neill Houcheon- 
son in the isle of Assint. Neill, who was commander of Assint, and a 
follower of the earl of Sutherland, sent immediate notice, to the earl, of 
Mackay's movements, on receiving which, the earl, assembling a body of 
men, despatched them to Assint to raise the siege ; but Mackay did not 
wait for their coming and retreated into Strathnaver. As the earl of 
Caithness had sent some of his people to assist Mackay, who was the 
earl of Sutherland's vassal, the latter resolved to punish both, and ac- 
cordingly made preparations for entering Strathnaver and Caithness, 
with an army. But some mutual friends of the parties interfered to pre- 
vent the effusion of blood, by prevailing on the two earls to met at Elgin, 
in the presence of the earl of Huntly and other friends, and get their 
differences adjusted. A meeting was accordingly held, at which the earls 
were reconciled. The whole blame of the troubles and commotions 
which had recently disturbed the peace of Sutherland and Caithness, was 
thrown upon the Clan Gun, who were alleged to have been the chief 
instigators, and as their restless disposition might give rise to new dis- 
orders, it was agreed, at said meeting, to cut them off, and particularly 
that part of the tribe which dwelt in Caithness, which was chiefly dread- 
ed, for which purpose the earl of Caithness bound himself to deliver up, 
to the earl of Sutherland, certain individuals of the clan living in Caith- 
ness. This condition was humiliating to the earl of Caithness, who, 
along with Mackay, had taken the Clan Gun under his protection, and 
on his return he refused to implement it. On hearing of his refusal the 
earl of Huntly took a journey into Sutherland, and sent messages to 
the earl of Caithness and Mackay to meet him at Dunrobin castle. 
The earl complied ; but Mackay declined, and was, therefore, denounced 
rebel for his disobedience. The earl of Caithness being then called 
upon to fulfil his promise to deliver up some of the Clan Gun, gave 
his assurance to that effect, and to enable him to implement his engage- 
ment a resolution was entered into to send two companies of men against 
those of the Clan Gun who dwelt in Caithness and Strathnaver, and to 
surround them in such a way as to prevent escape. The earl of Caith- 
ness, notwithstanding, sent private notice to the clan of the preparations 
making against them by Angus Sutherland of Mcllary, in Berridale ; 
but the clan were distrustful of the eail, as they had already received 
secret intelligence that he had assembled his people together for the 
purpose of attacking them. 

As soon as the earl of Sutherland could get his men collected he 
proceeded to march to the territories of the Clan Gun ; but meeting by 
chance, on his way, with a party of Strathnaver men, under the com- 
mand of William Mackay, brother of Houcheon Mackay, carrying off 
the cattle of James Mac-Rory, a vassal of his own, from Coireceann 


Loch in the Diri-Meanigh, he rescued and brought back his va.ssal'9 
cattle. After this the earl's party pursued William Mackay and the 
Stratlmaver men during the whole day, and killed one of the princi- 
pal men of the Clan Gun in Strathnaver, called Angus-Roy, with se- 
veral others of Mackay 's company. This affair was called Latha-Tom- 
Fraoich, that is, the day of ihe heather bush. At the end of the pursuit, 
and towards evening, the pursued party found themselves on the bor- 
ders of Caithness, where they found the Clan Gun assembled in conse- 
quence of the rising of the Caithness people who had taken away their 

This accidental meeting of the Strathnaver men and the Clan Gun 
was the means, probablj^, of saving both from destruction. They imme- 
diately entered into an alliance to stand by one another, and to live or 
die together. Next morning they found themselves placed between 
two powerful bodies of their enemies. On the one side was the earl of 
Sutherland's party at no great distance, reposing themselves from the 
fatigues of the preceding day, and on the other were seen advancing the 
Caithness men, conducted by Henry Sinclair, brother to the laird of 
Dun, and cousin to the earl of Caithness. A council of war was im- 
mediately held to consult how to act in this emergency. William 
Mackay gave it as his opinion, that they should immediately attack the 
Sutherland men, who were wearied with the labour of the preceding 
day, before the Caithness men should arrive, and who might be thus 
easily defeated. But the Clun Gun objected to Mackay 's plan, and 
proposed to attack the Caithness men first, as they were far inferior in 
numbers. This proposal having been acceded to, the Clan Gun and 
their allies, who had the advantage of the hill, attacked the Caithness 
men with great resolution. The latter foolishly expended their arrows 
while at a distance from their opponents ; but the Clan Gun having 
husbanded their shot till they came in close contact with the enemy 
did great execution. The Caithness men were completely overthrown, 
after leaving one hundred and forty of their party, with their captain, 
Henry Sinclair, dead on the field of battle. Had not the darkness of 
the night favoured their flight, they would have all been destroyed. 
Henry Sinclair was Mackay 's uncle, and not being aware that he had 
been in the engagement till he recognised his body among the slain, 
Mackay felt extremely grieved at the unexpected death of his relative. 
This skirmish took place at Aldgown, in the year fifteen hundred and / S^'^L 
eighty-six. The Sutherland men having lost sight of Mackay and his 
party among the hills, immediately before the conflict, returned into their 
own country with the booty they had recovered, and were not aware 
of the defeat of the Caithness men till some time after that event. 

The earl of Caithness afterwards confessed that he had no intention of 
attacking the Clan G un at the time in question ; but that his policy was 
to Iiave allowed them to be closely pressed and pursued by the Suther- 
land men, and then to have relieved them from the imminent danger 


they would thereby be placed in, so that they might consider that it 
was to him they owed their safecy, and thus lay them under fresh obli- 
gations to him. But the deceitful part he acted proved very disastrous 
to his people, and the result so exasperated him against the Clan Gun, 
that he hanged John-Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, chieftain of the Clan Gun, 
in Caithness, whom he had kept captive for some time. 

At the time the affair of Aldgown took place, Houcheon Mackay was 
on a visit to the earl of Caithness, whose paternal aunt he had married. 
But when the inhabitants of Caithness understood that William Mackay, 
his brother, had been with the Clan Gun at Aldgown, they attempted to 
murder Houcheon, who was, in consequence of this attempt upon his life, 
obliged to flee privately into Strathnaver.* 

The result of all these proceedings was another meeting between the 
earls of Sutherland and Caithness at the hill of Bingrime in Sutherland, 
which was brought about by the mediation of Sir Patrick Gordon of 
Auchindoun, who was sent into the north by his nephew, the earl 
of Huntly, for that purpose. Here again a new confederacy was 
formed against the Clan Gun in Caithness, who were now maintained 
and harboured by Mackay. The earl of Sutherland, on account of 
the recent defeat of the Caithness men, undertook to attack the clan 
first. He accordingly directed two bodies to march with ail haste 
against the clan, one of which was commanded by James Mack-Rory 
and Neill Mac-Iain-Mac-William, chief of the Sliochd-Iain-Abaraich, 
who were now under the protection of the earl of Sutherland ; and the 
other bj^ William Sutherland Johnson, George Gordon in Marie, and 
William Murray in Kinnald, brother of Hugh Murray of Aberscors. 
Houcheon Mackay seeing no hopes of maintaining the Clan Gun any 
longer without danger to himself, discharged them from his country, 
whereupon they made preparations for seeking an asylum in the wes- 
tern isles. But, on tiieir journey thither, they were met near Loch 
Broom, at a place called Leckmelme, by James Mac-Rory and Neill 
Mac-Iain-Mac-William, where, after a sharp skirmish, they were 
overthrown, and the greater part of them killed. Their commander, 
George Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, brother of John Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, 
who was hanged by the earl of Caithness, was severely Mounded, and 
was taken prisoner after an unsuccessful attempt to escape by swimming 
across a loch close by. After being carried to Dunrobin castle, and 
presented to the earl of Sutherland, George Gun was sent by him to 
the earl of Caithness, who, though extremely grieved at the nxisfor- 
tune which had happened to the Clan Gun, dissembled his vexation, 
and received the prisoner as if he approved of the earl of Sutherland's 
proceedings against him and his unfortunate people. After a short 
confinement, George Gun was released from his captivity by the earl 
of Caithness, at the entreaty of the earl of Sutherland, not from any fa- 

• Sir R. Gordon, pp. 181—184. 



vour to the prisoner himself, or to the earl, whom the earl of Caithness 
hated mortally, but with the design of making Gun an instrument ct 
annoyance to some of the earl of Caithness' neighbours. But the earl 
of Caithness was disappointed in his object, for George Gun, after his 
enlargement from prison, always remained faithful to the earl of Suther- 

About this time a violent feud arose in the western isles between 
Angus Macdonald of Kintyre, and Sir Lauchlan Maclean of Duart, in 
Mull, whose sister Angus had married, which ended almost in the total 
destruction of the Clandonald and Clanlean. The circumstances which 
led to this unfortunate dissension were these : — 

Donald Gorm Macdonald of Slate, when going on a visit from Slate 
to his cousin, Angus Macdonald of Kintyre, was forced by contrary 
winds to land with his party in the island of Jura, which belonged, partly 
to Sir Lauchlan Maclean, and partly to Angus Macdonald. The part 
of the island where Macdonald of Slate landed belonged to Sir Lauchlan 
Maclean. No sooner had Macdonald and his company landed, than 
by an unlucky coincidence, Macdonald Tearreagh and Houcheon Mac- 
gillespoc, two of the Clandonald, who had lately quarrelled with Donald 
Gorm, arrived at the same time with a party of men ; and, understand- 
ing that Donald Gorm was in the island, they secretly took away, by 
night, a number of cattle belonging to the Clanlean, and immediately 
put to sea. Their object in doing so was to make the Clanlean be- 
lieve that Donald Gorm and his party had carried off the cattle in the 
hope that the Macleans would attack Donald Gorm, and they were not 
disappointed. As soon as the lifting of the cattle had been discovered, 
Sir Lauchlan Maclean assembled his whole forces, and, under the im- 
pression that Donald Gorm and his party had committed the spoliation, 
he attacked them suddenly and unawares, during the night, at a place 
in the island called Inverchuockwrick, and slew about sixty of the Clan- 
donald. Donald Gorm, having previously gone on board his vessel to 
pass the night, fortunately escaped. 

When Angus Macdonald heard of this " untoward event,'* he visited 
Donald Gorm in Skye for the purpose of consulting with him on the 
means of obtaining reparation for the loss of his men. On his return 
homeward to Kintyre, he landed in the isle of Mull, and, contrary to 
the advice of Coll Mac-James and Reginald Mac-James, his two 
brothers, and of Reginald Mac-Coil, his cousin, who wished him to 
send a messenger to announce the result of his meeting with Donald 
Gorm, went to the castle of Duarl, the principal residence of Sir Lauch- 
lan Maclean in Mull. His two brothers refused to accompany him, 
and they acted rightly; for, the day after Angus arrived at Duart, 
he and all his party were perfidiously arrested by Sir Lauchlan Mac- 
lean. Reginald Mac-Coll, the cousin of Angus, alone escaped. The 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 185k 


Rhinns of Islay at this time belonged to the Clandonald, but they had 
given the possession of them to the Clanlean for personal services. Sir 
Lauchlan, thinking the present a favourable opportunity for acquiring an 
absolute right to this property, offered to release Angus Macdonald, 
provided he would renounce his right and title to the Rhinns ; and, in 
case of refusal, he threatened to make him end his days in captivity. 
Angus, being thus in some degree compelled, agreed to the proposed 
terms ; but before obtaining his liberty, he was forced to give James 
Macdonald, his eldest son, and Reginald Mac-James, his brother, as 
hostages, until the deed of conveyance should be delivered to Sir 

It was not, however, the intention of Angus Macdonald to imple- 
ment this engagement, if he could accomplish the liberation of his son 
and brother. His cousin had suffered a grievous injury at the hands of 
Sir Lauchlan Maclean without any just cause of offence, and he him- 
self had, when on a friendly mission, been detained most unjustly as a 
prisoner, and compelled to promise to surrender into Sir Lauchlan's hands, 
by a regular deed, a part of his property. Under these circumstances, 
his resolution to break the unfair engagement he had come under is not 
to be wondered at. To accomplish his object he had recourse to a stra- 
tagem in which he succeeded, as will be shown in the sequel. 

After Maclean had obtained delivery of the two hostages, he made 
a voyage to Islay to get the engagement completed. He left behind, 
in the castle of Duart, Reginald Mac-James, one of the hostages, 
whom he put in fetters, and took the other to accompany him on his 
voyage. Having arrived in the isle of Islay, he encamped at Eilean- 
Gorm, a ruinous castle upon the Rhinns of Islay, which castle had been 
lately in the possession of the Clanlean. Angus Macdonald was re- 
siding at the time at the house of Mulindry or Mullindhrea, a com- 
fortable and well-furnished residence belonging to him on the island, 
and to which he invited Sir Lauchlan, under the pretence of affording 
him better accommodation, and providing him with better provisions 
than he could obtain in his camp ; but Sir Lauchlan having his suspi- 
cions, declined to accept the invitation. " There wes (says Sir Robert 
Gordon) so little trust on cither syd, that they did not now meit in 
friendship or amitie, bot vpon ther owne guard, or rather by messingers, 
one from another. And true it is (sayeth John Colwin, in his manuscript,) 
that the islanders are, of nature, verie suspicious ; full of invention 
against ther nighbours, by whatsoever way they may get them destroyed. 
Besyds this, they are bent and eager in taking revenge, that neither 
liavc they regaird to persone, tyme, aige, nor cause ; and ar generallie 
BO addicted that way, (as lykwise are the most pairt of all Highlanders) 
tliat therein they surpasse all other people whatsoever." 

The refusal of Sir Lauchlan, to take up his residence at Mulindry, 
did not prevent Macdonald from renewing his offer, which he pressed 
very warmly, saying, that he would make him as welcome as far as he 


was able, that they should make merry together as long as the provi- 
sions at Mulindry lasted, and that when these were exhausted, he 
would go to Sir Lauchlan's camp and enjoy such fare as he could affoi-d. 
But Maclean told the bearer of the message frankly, that he was dis- 
trustful of Macdonald's intentions, and would not, therefore, come. 
Angus replied, by means of his messenger, that Maclean's suspicions 
were unfounded ; that he meant to show him nothing but brotherly 
love and affection ; and that as he held his son and brother as pledges, 
he could run no risk whatever in taking up his residence at Mulindry 
Sir Lauchlan was now thrown off his guard by these fair promises, and 
agreed to pay Macdonald a visit, and accordingly proceeded to Mulin- 
dry, accompanied by James Macdonald, his own nephew, and the son 
of Angus, and eighty-six of his kinsmen and servants. Maclean and 
his party, on their arrival, were received by Macdonald with much ap- 
parent kindness, and were sumptuously entertained during the whole 
day. In the meantime, Macdonald sent notice to all his friends and 
well-wishers in the island to come to his house at nine o'clock at night, 
his design being to seize Maclean and his party. At the usual hour for 
going to repose, Maclean and his people were lodged in a long-house, 
which stood by itself, at some distance from the other houses. During 
the whole day, Maclean had always kept James Macdonald, the hostage, 
within his reach as a sort of protection to him in case of an attack, and 
at going to bed he took him along with him. About an hour after 
Maclean and his people had retired, Angus assembled his men to the 
number of three or four hundred, and made them surround the house 
in which Maclean and his company lay. Then going himself to the 
door, he called upon Maclean, and told him that he had come to give 
him his reposing drink, which he had forgotten to offer him before go- 
ing to bod. Maclean answered that he did not wish to drink at that 
time; but Macdonald insisted that he should rise and receive the drink, 
it being, he said, his will that he should do so. The peremptory tone 
of Macdonald made Maclean at once apprehensive of the danger of his 
situation, and immediately getting up and placing the boy between his 
shoulders, prepared to preserve his life as long as he could with the boy, 
or to sell it as dearly as possible. As soon as the door was forced open, 
James Macdonald, seeing his father with a naked sword in his hand, 
and a number of his men armed in the same manner, cried aloud for 
mercy to Maclean, his uncle, which being granted, Sir Lauchlan was 
immediately removed to a secret chamber, where he remained till next 
morning. After Maclean had surrendered, Angus Macdonald announ- 
ced to those within the house, that if they would come without, their 
lives would be spared; but he excepted Macdonald Terreagh and 
another individual whom he named. The whole, with the exception of 
these two, having complied, the house was immediately set on fire, and 
consumed along with Macdonald Terreagh and his companion. The 
former was one of the Clan Donald of the western islands, and not only 
I. 2d 



had assisted the Clan Lean against his own tribe, but was also the ori- 
ginator, as we have seen, of all these disturbances ; and the latter was a 
near kinsman to Maclean, one of the oldest of the clan, and celebrated 
both for his wisdom and prowess. This affair took place in the month 
of July, fifteen hundred and eighty-six. 

When the intelligence of the seizure of Sir Lauchlan Maclean reached 
the Isle of Mull, Allan Maclean, who was the nearest kinsman to Mac- 
lean, whose children were then very young, bethought himself of an 
expedient to obtain the possessions of Sir Lauchlan. In conjunction with 
his friends, Allan caused a false report to be spread in the island of Islay, 
that the friends of Maclean had killed Reginald Mac-James, the re- 
maining hostage at Duart in Mull, by means of which he hoped that 
Angus Macdonald would be moved to kill Sir Lauchlan, and thereby 
enable him, (Allan,) to supply his place. But although this device did 
not succeed, it proved very disastrous to Sir Lauchlan's friends and 
followers, who were beheaded in pairs by Coll Mac-James, the brother 
of Angus Macdonaid. 

The friends of Sir Lauchlan seeing no hopes of his release, applied 
to the earl of Argyle to assist them in a contemplated attempt to 
rescue him out of the hands of Angus Macdonald ; but the earl per- 
ceiving the utter hopelessness of such an attempt with such forces as 
he and they could command, advised them to complain to King James 
VI. against Angus Macdonald, for the seizure and detention of their 
chief. The king immediately directed that Macdonald should be sum- 
moned by a herald-at-arms to deliver up Sir Lauchlan into the hands 
of the earl of Argyle ; but the herald was interrupted in the perform- 
ance of his duty, not being able to procure shipping for Islay, and was 
obliged to return home. The earl of Argyle had then recourse to ne- 
gotiation with Macdonald, and after considerable trouble he prevailed 
on him to release Sir Lauchlan on certain strict conditions, but not un- 
til Reginald Mac-James, the brother of Angus, had been delivered up, 
and the earl, for performance of the conditions agreed upon, had given 
his own son, and the son of Macleod of Harris, as hostages. But 
Maclean, quite regardless of the safety of the hostages, and in open 
violation of the engagements he had come under, on hearing that Angus 
Macdonald had gone to Ireland on a visit to the Clandonald of the 
glens in Ireland, invaded Ila, which he laid waste, and pursued those 
w!io had assisted in his capture. 

On his return from Ireland, Angus Macdonald made great prepara- 
tions for inflicting a just chastisement upon Maclean. Collecting a 
large body of men, and much shipping, he invaded Mull and Tiree, 
carrying havock and destruction along with him, and destroying every 
iiuman being and every domestic animal of whatever kind. While Mac- 
donald was commit»^ing these ravages in Mull and Tiree, Maclean, in. 
stead of opposing him, invaded Kintyre, where he took ample retalia- 
tion by wasting and burning a great part of that country. In this 


manner did these hostile clans continue, for a considerable period, mu- 
tually to vex and destroy one another till they were almost exterminated 
root and branch. 

In order to strengthen his own power and to weaken that of his anta- 
gonist, Sir Lauchlaii Maclean attempted to detach John Mac-Iain, of 
Ardnamurchan, from Angus Macdonald and his party. Mac-Iain had 
formerly been an unsuccessful suitor for the hand of Maclean's mother 
and Sir llLiCjt BO now gave him an invitation to visit him in Mull, pro 
mising, at the same time, to give him his mother in marriage. Mac 
Iain accepted the invitation, and on his arrival in Mull, Maclean 
prevailed on his mother to marry Mac-Iain, and the nuptials were ac- 
cordingly celebrated at Torloisk in Mull. Maclean thought, that by 
gratifying Mac-Iain in his long-wished-for object, he would easily suc- 
ceed in obtaining his assistance against Macdonald ; but he was dis- 
appointed in his expectations, for no persuasion could induce Mac-Iain 
to join against his own tribe, towards which, notwithstanding his matri- 
monial alliance, he entertained the strongest affection. Chagrined at the 
unexpected refusal of Mac-Iain, Sir Lauchlan resolved to punish his refrac- 
tory guest by one of those gross infringements of the laws of hospitality 
which so often marked the hostility of rival clans. During the dead 
hour of the night he caused the door of Mac-Iain's bed-chamber to be 
forced open, dragged him from his bed, and from the arms of his wife, 
and put him in close confinement, after killing eighteen of his followers. 
After suffering a year's captivity, he was released and exchanged for 
Maclean's son, and the other hostages in Macdonald's possession. 

The dissensions between these two tribes having attracted the atten- 
tion of government, the rival chiefs were induced, partly by command 
of the king, and partly by persuasions and fair promises, to come to 
Edinburgh in the year fifteen hundred and ninety-one, for the purpose 
of having their differences reconciled. On their arrival they were com- 
mitted prisoners within the castle of Edinburgh, but were soon released 
and allowed to return home on payment of a small pecuniary fine, "and 
a shamfull remission (says Sir Robert Gordon) granted to either of 

In the year fifteen hundred and eighty-seven, the flames of civil dis- 
cord, which had lain dormant for a short time, bui'st forth between the 
rival houses of Sutherland and Caithness, the immediate cause of which 
was this : In the year fifteen hundred and eighty-three, Alexander, 
Earl of Sutherland, obtained from the earl of Huntly a grant of the 
superiority of Strathnaver, and of tlie heritable sheriffship of Su- 
therland and Strathnaver, which last was granted in lieu of the lord- 
ship of Aboyne. This grant was confirmed by his Majesty in a charter 
under the great seal, by which Sutherland and Strathnaver were dis- 
joined and dismembered from the sheriffdom of Inverness. The success 

• HisL p. 192. 


which had attended the arms of the earl of Sutherland against the Claa 
Gun, and the kinsmen and dependants of the earl of Caithness, excited 
the envy and indignation of the latter, who became more desirous than 
ever to cripple the power of the earl of Sutherland. And as the 
strength and influence of the earl of Sutherland were greatly increased 
by the power and authority with which the superiority of Strathnaver 
invested him, the earl of Caithness used the most urgent entreaties with 
the earl of Huntly, who was his brother-in-law, to recal the gift of the 
superiority which he had granted to the earl of Sutherland, and confer 
the same on him. The earl of Huntly gave no decided answer to this 
aoplication, although he seemed rather to listen with a favourable ear 
to his brother-in-law's request. The earl of Sutherland having been 
made aware of his rival's pretensions, and of the reception which he had 
met with from the earl of Huntly, immediately notified to Huntly that 
ne would never restore the superiority either to him or to the earl of 
Caithness, as the bargain he had made with him had been long finally 
concluded. The earl of Huntly was much offended at this notice, but 
he and the earl of Sutherland were soon reconciled through the media- 
tion of Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchindun. 

Disappointed in his views of obtaining the superiority in question, 
the earl of Caithness seized the first opportunity, which presented itself, 
of quarrelling with the earl of Sutherland, and he now thought that a 
suitable occasion had occurred. George Gordon, a bastard son of Gil- 
bert Gordon of Gartay, having offered many indignities to the earl of 
Caithness, the earl, instead of complaining to the earl of Sutherland, in 
whose service this George Gordon was, craved satisfaction and redress 
from the earl of Huntly. Huntly very properly desired the earl of 
Caithness to lay his complaint before the earl of Sutherland ; but this he 
declined to do, disdaining to seek redress from Earl Alexander. En- 
couraged, probably, by the refusal of the earl of Huntly to interfere, and 
the stubbornness of the earl of Caithness to ask redress from his master, 
George Gordon, who resided in the town of Marie in Strathully, on the 
borders of Caithness, not satisfied with the indignities which he had 
formerly shown to the earl of Caithness, cut off" the tails of the earl's 
horses as they were passing the river of Helmsdale under the care of 
n is servants, on their journey from Caithness to Edinburgh, and in deri- 
sion desired the earl's servants to show him what he had done. 

This George Gordon, it would appear, led a very irregular and 
wicked course of life, and shortly after the occurrence we have just 
related, a circumstance happened which induced the earl of Caithness 
to take redress at his own hands. George Gordon had incurred the 
displeasure of the earl of Sutherland by an incestuous connexion with 
his wife's sister, and as he had no hopes of regaining the earl's favour 
but by renouncing this impure intercourse, he sent Patrick Gordon, his 
brother, to the earl of Caithness to endeavour to effect a reconciliation 
with him, as he could no longer rely upon the protection of his master, 


ihe earl of Sutherland. The earl of Caithness, who felt an inward sa- 
listaction at hearing of the displeasure of the earl of Sutherland at 
George Gordon, dissembled his feelings, and pretended to listen with 
great favour to the request of Patrick Gordon, in order to throw 
George Gordon off his guard, while he was in reality meditating his 
destruction. The ruse succeeded so effectually, that although Gordon re- 
ceived timeous notice, from some friends, of the intentions of the earl to 
attack him, he reposed in false security upon the promises held out to 
bim, and made no provision for his personal safety. But he was soon 
undeceived by the appearance of the earl and a body of men, who, 
entering Marie under the silence of the night, surrounded his house and 
required him to surrender. He, however, refused to comply, and 
when attacked defended the house with great bravery, and killed a 
gentleman of the name of Sutherland, one of the principal officers of 
the earl ; but being sorely pressed, he made a desperate effort to escape 
by cutting his way through his enemies and throwing himself into the 
river of Helmsdale, which he attempted to swim across, but, in his en- 
deavours to reach the opposite bank, was slain by a shower of arrows. 
This occurrence took place in the month of February fifteen hundrea 
and eighty seven. The earl detained Patrick Gordon, the brother of 
George, prisoner, but he soon escaped and returned into Sutherland. 

The earl of Sutherland, though he disliked the conduct of George 
Gordon, was high'y incensed at his death, and made great preparations 
to punish the earl of Caithness for his attack upon Gordon. The earl 
of Caithness in his turn assembled his whole forces, and being joined 
by Mackay and the Strathnaver men, together with John, the master 
of Orkney, and the earl of Carrick, brother of Patrick, earl of Orkney, 
and some of his countrymen, marched to Helmsdale to meet the earl 
of Sutherland. As soon as the latter heard of the advance of the earl 
of Caithness, he also proceeded towards Helmsdale, accompanied by 
Mackintosh, Roderick Mackenzie of Redcastle, Hector Monroe of 
Contaligh, and Neill Houcheonson, with the men of Assint. On his 
arrival at the river of Helmsdale, the earl of Sutherland found the 
enemy encamped on the opposite side. Neither party seemed inclined 
to come to a general engagement, but contented themselves with daily 
skirmishes by annoying each other with guns and arrows from the op- 
posite banks of the river, which, in some instances, proved fatal. The 
Sutherland men, who were very expert archers, annoyed the Caithness 
men so much, as to force them to break up their camp on the river side 
and to remove among the rocks above the village of Easter Helmsdale. 
Mackay and his countrymen were encamped on the river of Marie, and 
in order to detach him from the earl of Caithness, Mackintosh crossed 
that river and had a private conference with him. After reminding him 
of the friendship which had so long subsisted between his ancestors and 
the Sutherland family. Mackintosh endeavoured to impress upon his 
mind the danger he incurred by taking up arms against his own supe- 



rior the earl of Sutherland, and entreated him, for his own sake, to join 
the earl ; but Mackay remained inflexible. 

By the mediation of mutual friends, the two earls agreed to a tempo- 
rary truce on the ninth of March fifteen hundred and eighty-seven, and 
thus the effusion of human blood was stopped for a short time. As 
/ Mackay was the vassal of the earl of Sutherland, the latter refused to 

^ comprehend him in the truce, and insisted upon an unconditional sub- 

mission, but Mackay obstinately refused to do so, and returned home to 
his own country, highly chagrined that the earl of Caithness, for whom 
he had put his life and estate in jeopardy, should have acceded to the earl 
of Sutherland's request, to exclude him from the benefit of the truce. Be- 
fore the two earls separated, they came to a mutual understanding to re- 
duce Mackay to obedience; andthathe might not suspect their design, they 
agreed to meet at Edinburgh for the purpose of concerting the necessary 
measures together. Accordingly, they held a meeting at the appointed 
place m the year fifteen hundred and eighty-eight, and came to the reso- 
lution to attack Mackay ; and to prevent Mackay from receiving any 

/ S ^i'^k ^Intelligence of their design, both parties swore to keep the same secret ; 

/ ^ but the earl of Caithness, regardless of his oath, immediately sent notice 

to Mackay of the intended attack, for the purpose of enabling him to 
meet it. Instead, however, of following the earl of Caithness' advice, 
Mackay, justly dreading his hollow friendship, made haste, by the 
advice of Mackintosh and the Laird of Foulis, to reconcile himself 
to the earl of Sutherland, his superior, by an immediate submission. 
For this purpose, he and the earl first met at Inverness, and after con- 
ferring together they made another appointment to meet at Elgin, where 
a perfect and final reconciliation took place in the month of November, 
fifteen hundred and eighty-eight. 


Tl»e Earl of Sutherland invades Caithness — Truce between the two Earls— Caithness 
breaks tlie truce — Affair ot the Creach-ne-Kamkish — Earl of Sutherland again invades 
Caithness — Submission of the people — Fresh truce — Sinclair of Murkle invades Strath- 
uUy — Skirmish at Crissalligh — The Earl of Sutherland enters Caithness a third time 
— Meeting of the Earls at Elgin — Dispute between the Gordons and Murrays about 
precedency — Battle of Clyne — Houcheon Mackay invades Caithness — Feud between 
the Clan Gun and other tribes — The Clan-Chattan opposes the Earl of Huntly — 
Quarrel between the Gordons and the Grants— Meeting at Forres of the Grants, Clan- 
Chattan and others — Huntly breaks up the meeting— Huntly's operations against the 
Earl of Moray — Death of (he Earl of Moray — Tumults in consequence — Huntly com- 
mitted — Revolt of the Clan-Chattan — Defeated by the Camerons — Defeat of the Grants 
— Clan-Chattan invade Strathdee and Glenmucke — Defeated by the Earl of Huntly — 
March of the Earl of Argyle to the north — Battle of Glenlive-t — Journey of James VI. ^ k^' ^ 
to the north — Tumults in Ross — Feud in the Western Isles between the Macleans and ^ 

Macdonalds — Defeat of the Macleans in Ila — Dispute between the Earls of Sutherland 
and Caithness — Feud between Macdonald of Slate and Sir Roderick Macleod of Har- 
ris—Dreadful excesses in Skye and Uist — Defeat of the Macleans in Skye — Recon- 
ciliation between Macleod and Macdona 

The truce between the two earls having now expired, the earl of 
Sutherland, emboldened by the submission of Mackay, demanded redress 
from the earl of Caithness for the slaughter of George Gordon, an re- 
quired that the principal actors in that affair should be punished. The earl 
of Caithness having refused reparation, the earl of Sutherland sent two 
hundred men into Caithness under the command of John Gordon of 
Golspietour, afterwards of Embo, and of John Gordon of Kilcalmekill, 
his brother, to reconnoitre and ascertain the strength of the enemy be- 
fore invading the country himself. The Gordons and their party, en- 
tered the parishes of Dumbaith and Latliron, and after wasting the 
country and killing John James-son, one of the principal gentlemen in 
Caithness, and some others, they returned with an immense booty in 
cattle, which they divided among themselves. This division was long 
known by the name of Creach-lairn, that is, the harship of Lathron. 

Immediately on the return of this party, the earl of Sutherland, ac- 
companied by Mackay, Mackintosh, the Laird of Foulis, the Laird of 
Assint, and Gille-Calum, Laird of Rasay, entered Caithness with all his 
forces. In taking this step he was warranted by a commission which he 
had obtained at court through the influence of chancellor Maitland, 
against the earl of Caithness for killing George Gordon. The people of 
Caithness, alarmed at the great force of the eai'l, fled in all directions on 
his approach, and he never halted till he reached the strong fort of Gir- 
nigo, where he pitched his camp for twelve days. He then penetrated 
as far as Duncansby, killing several of the country people in his route. 



and collecting an immense quantity of cattle and goods, so large, indeed, 
as to exceed all that had been seen together in that country for many 
years, all of which was divided among the army, agreeably to the custom 
in such cases. This invasion had such an effect upon the people of Caith- 
ness, that every race, clan, tribe and family there, vied with one another 
in otfermg pledges to the earl of Sutherland to keep the peace in all time 
coming. This affair took place in the month of February, fifteen hundred 
and eighty-eight, and was called La-na-Creach-Moir, that is, the time of 
the great slaughter or spoil. The town of Wick was also pillaged and 
burnt, but the church was preserved. In the church was found the 
heart of the earl of Caithness' father in a case of lead, which was opened 
by John MacGille-CalumRasay, and the ashes of the heart were thrown 
by him to the winds. 

During the time when these depredations were committing, the earl 
of Caithness shut himself up in the castle of Girnigo ; but on learning 
the disasters which had befallen his country, he desired a cessation of 
hostilities and a conference with the earl of Sutherland. As the castle 
of Girnigo was strongly fortified, and as the earl of Caithness had made 
preparations for enduring a long siege, the earl of Sutherland complied 
with his request. Both earls ultimately agreed to refer all their diiffer- 
ences and disputes to the arbitrament of friends, and the earl of Huntly 
was chosen by mutual consent to act as umpire or oversman, in the 
event of a difference of opinion. A second truce was in this way en- 
tered into until the decision of the arbiters, when all differences were to 

Notwithstanding this engagement, however, the earl of Caithness 
soon gave fresh provocation, for before the truce had expired he 
sent a party of his men to Diri-Chatt in Sutherland, under the 
command of Kenneth Buy, and his brother, Farquhar Buy, chieftains 
of the Siol-Mhic-Imheair in Caithness, and chief advisers of the earl of 
Caithness in his bad actions, and his instruments in oppressing the poor 
people of Caithness. These men, after killing Donald-Mac-Iain-Moir, 
a herdsman of the earl of Sutherland, carried off some booty out of 
Baddenligh. The earl of Sutherland lost no time in revenging himself. 
/ ^3?^ ^^ Whitsunday, in the year fifteen hundred and eighty-nine, he sent 

three hundred men into Caithness with Alexander Gordon of Kilcalme- 
kill at* their head. They penetrated as far as Girnigo, laying the coun- 
try waste everywhere around them, and striking terror into the hearts 
of the inhabitants, many of whom, including some of the Siol-Mhic- 
Imheair, they killed. After spending their fury the party returned to 
Sutherland with a large booty, and without the loss of a single man. 
This affair was called the Creach-na-Camchic. 

To retaliate upon the earl of Sutherland for this inroad, James Sin- 
clair of Markle, brother of the earl of Caithness, collected an army o/ 

• Sir R. Gordon, p. 157. 


three thousand men, with whicli he marched into SLratiiulIy, in the / y^ij ^ 
month of June, fifteen hundred and eighty-nine. As the earl of Suthcr- / ^ o^ Q 
land had been apprehensive of ah attack, he had placed a range of sen- ^ 

tinels along the borders of Sutherland, to give notice of the approach of 
the enemy. Of these, four were stationed in the village of Liribell, which 
the Caithness men entered in the middle of the day unknown to the 
sentinels, who, instead of keeping an outlook, were at the time care- 
lessly enjoying themselves within the watch-house. On perceiving the 
Caithness men about entering the house, they shut themselves up with- 
in it; but the house being set on fire, three of them perished, and the 
fourth, rushing through the flames, escaped with great difficulty, and 
announced to his countrymen the arrival of the enemy. 

From Strath ully, Sinclair passed forward with his army to a place 
called Crissalligh, on the height of Strathbroray, and began to drive 
away some cattle towards Caithness. As the earl of Sutherland had 
not yet had sufficient time to collect a sufficient force to oppose Sinclair, 
he sent in the meantime Houcheon Mackay, who happened to be at 
Dunrobin, with five or six hundred men, to keep Sinclair in check until 
a greater force should be assembled. With this body, which was has- 
tily drawn together on the spur of the occasion, Mackay advanced 
with amazing celerity, and such was the rapidity of his movements, that 
he most unexpectedly came up with Sinclair, not far from Crissalligh, 
when his army was ranging about without order, or military discipline. 
On coming up, Mackay found John Gordon of Kilcalmekill at the head 
of a small party skirmishing with the Caithness men, a circumstance 
which made him instantly resolve, though so far inferior in numbers, to 
attack Sinclair. Crossing therefore the water, which was between him 
and the enemy, Mackay and his men rushed upon the army of Sinclair, 
which they defeated after a long and warm contest. The Caithness 
men retreated with the loss of their booty and part of their baggage, 
and were closely pursued by a body of men, commanded by John 
Murray, nicknamed the merchant, to a distance of sixteen miles.* 

This defeat, however, did not satisfy the earl of Sutherland, who, hav- 
ing now assembled an army, entered Caithness with the intention of 
laying it waste. The earl advanced as far as Corrichoigh, and the earl 
of Caithness convened his forces at Spittle, where he lay waiting the 
arrival of his enemy. The earl of Huntly having been made acquainted 
with the warlike preparations of the two hostile earls, sent, without de- 
lay, his uncle. Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchindun to mediate between 
them, and he luckily arrived at the earl of Sutherland's head-quarters, 
at the very instant his army was on its march to meet the earl of Caith- 
ness. By the friendly interference of Sir Patrick, the parties were pre- 
vailed upon to desist from their hostile intentions, and to agree to hold 
an amicable meeting at Elgin, in presence of the earl of Huntly, to 

• Sir R. (lordon, p, loy. 
I. 2 E 





whom they also agreed to refer all their differences. A meeting accord- 
ingly took place in the month of November, fifteen hundred and eighty- 
nine, at which all disputes were settled, and in order that the reconcili- 
ation might be lasting, and that no recourse might again be had to 
arms, the two earls subscribed a deed, by whijch they appointed Huntly 
and his successors hereditary judges, and arbitrators of all disputes, or 
diflferences, that might from thenceforth arise between these two families 
and houses. 

This reconciliation, however, as it did not obliterate the rancour 
which existed between the people of these different countries, was but 
of short duration. The frequent depredations committed by the vassals 
and retainers of the earls upon the property of one another, led to an 
exchange of letters and messages between them, about the means to be 
used for repressing these disorders. During this correspondence the 
earl of Sutherland became unwell, and, being confined to his bed, the 
earl of Caithness, in October fifteen hundred and eighty-nine, wrote him 
a kind letter which he had scarcely despatched when he most unaccount- 
ably entered Sutherland with a hostile force ; but he only remained one 
night in that country, in consequence of receiving intelligence of a medi- 
tated attack upon his camp, by John Gordon of Kilcalmekill, and Neill 
Mac -Iain -Mac-William. A considerable number of the Sutherlands 
having collected together, they resolved to pursue the Caithness men, 
who had carried off a large quantity of cattle ; but on coming nearly 
up with them, an unfortunate difference arose between the Murrays and 
the Gordons, each contending for the command of the vanguard. The 
Murrays rested their claim upon their former good services to the 
house of Sutherland ; but the Gordo^is refusing to admit it, all the 
Murrays, with the exception of William Murray, brother of the laird of 
Palrossie, and John Murray, the merchant^ withdrew, and took a sta- 
tion on a hill hard by to witness the combat. This unexpected event 
seemed to paralyze the Gordons at first ; but seeing the Caithness men 
driving the cattle away before them, and thinking that if they did not 
attack them they would be accused of cowardice, Patrick Gordon of 
Gartay, John Gordon of Embo, and John Gordon of Kilcalmekill, after 
some consultation, resolved to attack the retiring foe without loss of 
time, and without waiting for the coming up of the Strathnaver men, 
who were hourly expected. This was a bold and desperate attempt, as 
the Gordons were only as one to twelve in point of numbers, but they 
could not brook the idea of being branded as cowards. Witli such nu- 
merical inferiority, and with the sun and wind in their faces to boot, the 
Sutherland men advanced upon and resolutely attacked the Caithness 
men near Clyne. In the van of the Caithness army were placed about 
fifteen hundred archers, a considerable number of whom were from the 
Western Isles, unr'er the command of Donald Balloch Mackay of Skow- 
rie, who poured a thick shower of arrows upon the men of Sutherland 
aa they advanced, and who, in return, gave their opponents a similar re- 


coption. The combat raged with great fury for a considerable time be- 
tween these two parties : thrice were the Caithness archers driven back 
upon their rear, which was in consequence thrown into great disorder, 
and thrice did they return to the conflict cheered on and encouraged by 
their leader ; but, though superior in numbers, they could not withstand 
the firmness and intrepidity of the Sutherland men, who forced them to 
retire from the field of battle on the approach of night, and to abandon 
the cattle which had been carried off. The loss in killed and wounded 
was about equal on both sides, but with the exception of Nicolas Su- 
therland, brother of the laird of Forse, and Angus Mac-Angus-Ter- 
mat, both belonging to the Caithness party, and John Murray, the 
merchant, on the Sutherland side, there were no principal persons 
killed. This Angus Mac- Angus was the ablest and most active man 
in Caithness, and for his extraordinary swiftness was called Birlig. 
Among the wounded was John Gordon of Kilcalm-Kill, and William 
Murray before mentioned. This affair took place in the month of Oc- 
tober fifteen hundred and ninety. The obstinacy with which the Caith- 
ness men fought was owing principally to Donald Balloch Mackay, who 
at the time in question had been banished from Sutherland and Strath- 
naver for the murder of James Macrory, and other crimes, and had 
placed himself under the protection of the earl of Caithness. Being 
afterwards apprehended and imprisoned in Dunrobin castle, he was, on 
the entreaty of his brother, Houcheon Mackay, released by the earl of 
Sutherland, and ever after remained faithful to the earl.* 

Houcheon Mackay, taking advantage of the temporary absence of 
the Caithness men in their late excursion into Sutherland, entered into 
Caithness, laying waste every thing in his course, even to the gates of 
Thurso, and carried off a large quantity of booty without opposition, 
which he divided among his countrymen according to custom. He had 
previously sent the greater part of his men under the direction of his 
brother William to assist the Sutherland men ; but he was too late in 
joining them, a circumstance which raised a suspicion that William fa- 
voured privately the views of the earl of Caithness. 

Vain as the efforts of the mutual friends of the two rival earls had hi- 
therto been to reconcile them effectually, the earl of Huntly and others 
once more attempted an arrangement, and having prevailed upon the 
parties to meet at Strathbogie, a final agreement was entered into in the 
month of March, in the year fifteen hundred and ninety-one, by which 
they agreed to bury all bygone differences in oblivion, and to live on 
t(!rms of amity in all time thereafter. 

This fresh reconciliation of the two earls was the means of restoring 
quiet in their districts for a considerable time, which was partially inter- 
ruj ted in the year fifteen hundred and ninety-four by a quarrel between 
die Clan Gun and some of the other petty tribes. Donald Mac-WiUiam- 

• Sir H. Gordon, p. W^ 






Mac-Heiiric, Alister Mac-Iain-Mac-Rorie, and others of the Clau Gun 
entered Caithness and attacked Farquhar Buy, one of the captains of the 
tribe of Siol-Mhic-lmheair, and William Sutherland, alias William Aba- 
raich, the chief favourite of the earl of Caithness, and the principal plotter 
against the life of George Gordon, whose death has been already noticed. 
After a warm skirmish, Farquhar Buy, and William Abaraich, and some 
of their followers, were slain. To revenge this outrage, the earl of Caith- 
ness sent the same year his brother, James Sinclair of Murkle, with a 
party of men against the Clan Gun in Strathie, in Strathnaver, who 
killed seven of that tribe. George Mac-Iain-Mac-Rob, the chief, 
and Donald Mac-William-Mac-Henric, narrowly escaped with their 

For the sake of continuity, we have deferred noticing those transac- 
tions in the north in which George Gordon, earl of Huntly, was more 
immediately concerned, and which led to several bloody conflicts. 

The earl, who was a favourite at court, and personally liked by 
James the Sixth, finding himself in danger from the prevailing faction, 
retired to his possessions in the north, for the purpose of improving his 
estates and enjoying domestic quiet. One of his first measures was to 
erect a castle at Ruthven, in Badenoch, in the neighbourhood of his 
hunting forests. This gave great offence to Mackintosh, the chief of 
the Clan-Chattan, and his people, as they considered that the object of 
its erection was to overawe the clan. Being the earl's vassals and te- 
nants they were bound to certain services, among which, the furnishing 
of materials for the building formed a chief part ; but instead of assist- 
ing the earl's people, they at first indirectly and in an underhand man- 
ner, endeavoured to prevent the workmen from going on with their 
operations, and afterwards positively refused to furnish the necessaries 
required for the building. This act of disobedience, followed by a quar- 
rel in the year fifteen hundred and ninety, between the Gordons and 
the Grants, was the cause of much trouble, the occasion of which was this. 
John Grant, the tutor of Ballendalloch, having withheld the rents due 
to the widow, and endeavoured otherwise to injure her, James Gordon, 
her nephew, eldest son of Alexander Gordon of Lismore, along with 
some of his friends, went to Ballendalloch to obtain justice for her. 
On their arrival, differences were accommodated so far that the tutor 
paid up all arrears due to the lady, except a trifle, which he insisted, on 
some ground or other, on retaining. This led to some altercation, in 
which the servants of both parties took a share, and latterly came to 
blows ; but they were separated, and James Gordon returned home- 
Judging from what had taken place, that his aunt's interests would in 
future be better attended to if under the protection of a husband, he 
persuaded the brother of Sir Thomas Gordon of Cluny to marry her, 
which he did. This act so incensed the tutor of Ballendalloch, that he 
at once sliowed his iispleasure by killing, at the iustigation of the laird 
of Grant one of John Gordon's servants. For this the tutor, and such 


of the Grants as should harbour or assist him, were declared outlaws 
and rebels, and a commission was granted to the earl of Huntly to ap- 
prehend and bring them to justice, in virtue of which, he besieged the 
liouse of Ballendalloch, which he took by force, on the second day of 
November, fifteen hundred and ninety ; but the tutor effected his 
escape. Sir John Campbell of Cadell, a despicable tool of the Chan- 
cellor Maitland, who had plotted the destruction of the earl and the 
laird of Grant, now joined in the conspiracy against him, and stirred up 
the Clan-Chattan, and Mackintosh their chief, to aid the Grants. 
They also persuaded the earls of Atholl and Moray to assist them 
against the earl of Huntl3^ 

As soon as Huntly ascertained that the Grants and Clan-Chattan, 
who were his own vassals, had put themselves under the command of 
these earls, he assembled his followers, and, entering Badenoch, sum- 
moned his vassals to appear before him, and deliver up the tutor and his 
abettors, but none of them came. He then proclaimed and denounced 
them rebels, and obtained a royal commission to invade and apprehend 
them. To consult on the best means of defending themselves the earls 
of Moray and Atholl, the D unbars, the Clan-Chattan, the Grants, and 
the laird of Cadell, and others of their party met at Forres. Two 
contrary opinions were given at this meeting. On the one hand Mack- 
intosh, Grant, and Cadell advised the earls, who were pretty well sup- 
ported by a large party in the north, immediately to collect their forces 
and oppose Huntly ; but the D unbars, on the other hand, were op- 
posed to this advice, and endeavoured to convince the earls that they 
were not in a fit condition at that time to make a successful stand 
against their formidable antagonist. In the midst of these delibera- 
tions Huntly, who had received early intelligence of the meeting, and . 
had, in consequence, assembled his forces, unexpectedly made his ap- 
pearance in the neighbourhood of Forres. This sudden advance of 
Huntly struck terror into the minds of the persons assembled, and the 
meeting instantly broke up in great confusion. The whole party, with 
the exception of the earl of Moray, left the town in great haste, and 
fled to Tarnoway. The earl of Moray had provided all things neces- 
sary for his defence in case he should be attacked ; but the earl of 
Huntly, not aware that he had remained behind, marched directly to 
Tarnoway in pursuit of the fugitives. On arriving within sight of the 
castle into which the flying party had thrown themselves, the earl sent 
John Gordon, brother of Sir Thomas Gordon of Cluny, with a small 
body of men to reconnoitre ; but approaching too near without due 
caution, he was shot by one of the earl of Moray's servants. As Hunt- 
ly found the castle well fortified, and a-s the rebels evacuated it and fled 
to the mountains, leaving a surficient force to protect it, he disbanded 
his men oii the twenty-fourth day of November fifteen hundred an* I 
ninety, and returned home, from wlience he proceeded to Edinburgh. 

Shortly after his arrival the earl of Bothwell, who had a design upon 


the life of Chancellor Maitland, made an attack upon the palace of 
Ilolyroodhouse under cloud of night, with the view of seizing Mait- 
land ; but, having failed in his object, he was forced to flee to the north 
to avoid the vengeance of the king. The earl of Huntly, who had 
been lately reconciled to Maitland, and the duke of Lennox, were sent 
in pursuit of Bothwell, but he escaped their hands. Understanding af- 
terwards that he was harboured by the earl of Moray at Dunibristle, 
the chancellor, having procured a commission against him from the king 
in favour of Huntly, again sent him to the north, accompanied by forty 
gentlemen to attack the earl of Moray. When the party had arrived 
near Dunibristle, the earl of Huntly sent captain John Gordon, bro- 
ther of Gordon of Gight, with a summons to the earl of Moray, requir- 
ing him to surrender himself prisoner ; but instead of complying, one 
of the earl's servants levelled a piece at the bearer of the despatch, and 
wounded him mortally. Huntly, therefore, after giving orders to take 
the earl of Moray alive if possible, forcibly entered the house ; but Sir 
Thomas Gordon, recollecting the fate of his brother at Tarnoway, and 
Gordon of Gight, who saw his brother lying mortally wounded before 
his eyes, entirely disregarded the injunction ; and, following the earl, 
who had fled among the rocks on the adjoining sea-shore, slew him. 

The earl of Huntly immediately despatched John Gordon of Buckie 
to Edmburgh, to lay a statement of the affair before the king and the 
chancellor. The death of the earl of Moray would have passed quietly 
over, as an event of ordinary occurrence in those troublesome times ; but 
as he was one of the heads of the protestant party, the presbyterian 
ministers gave the matter a religious turn by denouncing the catholic 
earl of Huntly as a murderer, who wished to advance the interest of his 
church by imbruing his hands in the blood of his protestant countrymen. 
The effect of the ministers' denunciations was a tumult among the people 
in Edinburgh, and other parts of the kingdom; which obliged the king 
to cancel the commission he liad granted to the earl of Huntly. The 
spirit of discontent became so violent that captain John Gordon, who had 
been left at Innerkeithing for the recovery of his v/ounds, but who had 
been afterwards taken prisoner by the earl of Moray's friends and car- 
ried to Edinburgh, was tried before a jury, and contrarj'^ to law and 
justice condemned and executed, for having assisted the earl of Huntly 
acting under a royal commission. The recklessness and severity of 
this act were still more atrocious, as Captain Gordon's wounds were 
incurable, and he was fast hastening to his grave. John Gordon of 
Btickie, who was master of the king's household, was obliged to flee from 
Edinburgh, and made a narrow escape with his life. 

As for the earl of Huntly, he was summoned at the instance of the 
Lord of St Colme, brother of the deceased earl of Moray, to stand trial. 
Ho accordingly appeared at Edinburgh and offered to abide the result of 
a trial by his peers, and in the moan time was committed a prisoner 
to the ciu^tlc of Blackness on the twelfth day of March fifteen hundred 



and ninety one, till the peers should assemble to try him. On giving 
sufficient surety, however, that he would appear and stand trial on re- 
ceiving six days' notice to that effect, he was released by the king on 
the twentieth day of the same month. 

The Clan-Chattan, who had never submitted without reluctance to the 
earl of Huntly, considered the present aspect of affairs as peculiarly fa- 
vourable to the design they entertained of shaking off the yoke altogether, 
and being countenanced and assisted by the Grants, and other friends 
of the earl of Moray, made no secret of their intentions. At first the 
eai'l sent Allen Macdonald-Duibh, the chief of the Clan-Cameron, with 
his tribe to attack the Clan-Chattan in Badenoch, and to keep them in 
due order and subjection. The Camerons, though warmly opposed, suc- 
ceeded in defeating the Clan-Chattan, who lost fifty of their men after a 
sharp skirmish. The earl next dispatched Mackronald with some of the 
Lochaber men against the Grants in Strathspey, whom he attacked, killed 
eighteen of them and laid waste the lands of Ballendalloch. After the 
Clan-Chattan had recovered from their defeat, they invaded Strathdee 
and Glenmuck, under the command of Angus Donald Williamson, and 
killed Henry Gordon of the Knock, Alexander Gordon of Teldow, 
Thomas Gordon of Blaircharrish, and the old Baron of Breghly, also 
a Gordon. The baron was much addicted to hospitality, and unsus- 
picious of any bad design against him he entertained the hostile party 
in his best manner, but they afterwards basely murdered him. This oc- 
currence took place on the first day of November fifleen hundred and 
ninety two. To punish this aggression the earl of Huntly collected his 
forces and entered Pettie, then in possession of the Clan-Chattan, as a 
fief from the earls of Moray, and laid waste all the lands of the Clan- 
Chattan there, killed many of them, and carried off a large quantity 
of cattle which he divided among his army. But in returning from 
Pettie afler disbanding his army, he received the unwelcome intelligence 
that William Mackintosh, son of Lauchlan Mackintosh, the chief, w^ith 
eight hundred of the Clan-Chattan, had invaded the lands of Auchindun 
and Cabberogh. The earl, afler desiring the small party which remained 
with him to follow him as speedily as possible, immediately set off at 
full speed, accompanied by Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchindun, and 
thirty-six horsemen, in quest of Mackintosh and his party. Overtaking 
them before they had left the bounds of Cabberogh upon the top of a 
hill called Stapliegate, he attacked them with his small party, and after 
a warm skirmish defeated them, killing about sixty of their men and 
wounding William Mackintosh and others. - 

After this event the earl of Huntly undertook a second expedition 
into Pettie. He gave orders to Alexander Gordon of Abergeldie, his 
bailie in Badenoch, to bring his forces in Lochaber and Badenoch to 
Inverness, and on his way thither he was desired to send a party under 
the command of Mackronald to lay waste the lands of the Laird of 
Grant in Strathspey, and those of Mackintosh in Badenoch, which he 




accordingly did. In this new expedition the earl of Huntly did great 
damage to the lands of the rebels, killed several of them, and returned 
home with a large booty.* 

The earl of Huntly, after thus subduing his enemies in the north, now 
found himself placed at the ban of the government on account of an 
alleged conspiracy between him and the earls of Angus and Errol and 
the crown of Spain, to overturn the state and the church. The king 
and his councillors seemed to be satisfied of the innocence of the earls, 
but the ministers, who considered the- reformed religion in Scotland in 
danger while these catholic peers were protected and favoured, impor- 
tuned his majesty to punish them. The king yielding to necessity and 
to the intrigues of Queen Elizabeth, forfeited their titles, intending to 
restore them when a proper opportunity occurred, and to silence the cla- 
mours of the ministers, convoked a parliament, which was held in the end 
of the month of May, fifteen hundred and ninety-four. As few of the 
^'\^q/J peers attended, the ministers, having the commissioners of the burghs or 
their side, carried every thing their own way, and the consequence was, 
that the three earls were attainted without trial and their arms were torn 
in presence of the parliament, according to the custom in such cases. 

Having so far succeeded, the ministers, instigated by the Queen 
of England, now entreated the king to send the earl of Argyle, a youth oi 
nineteen years of age, in the pay of queen Elizabeth, with an army against 
the Catholic earls. The king, still yielding to necessity, complied, and 
Argyle having collected a force of about twelve thousand men, entered 
Badenoch and laid siege to the castle of Ruthven, on the twenty-seventh 
day of September, fifteen hundred and ninety-four. He was accom- 
panied in this expedition by the earl of Athol, Sir Lauchlan Maclean 
with some of his islanders, the chief of the Mackintoshes, the laird of 
Grant, the Clan-Gregor, Macneil of Barra with all their friends and 
dependents, together with the whole of the Campbells, and a variety of 
others whom a thirst for plunder or malice towards the Gordons had 
induced to join the earl of Argyle's standard. The castle of Ruthven 
was so well defended by the Clan-Pherson, who were the earl of Hunt- 
ly's vassals, that Argyle was obliged to give up the siege. He then 
marched through Strathspey, and encamped at Drummin, upon the 
river Avon, on the second day of October, from whence he issued or- 
ders to Lord Forbes, the Erasers, the Dunbars, the Clan-Kenzie, the 
Irvings, the Ogilvies, the Leslies, and other tribes and clans in the 
north, to join his standard with all convenient speed. 

The earls, against whom this expedition was directed, were by no 
means dismayed. They knew that although the king was constrained 
by popular clamour to levy war upon them, he was in secret friendly to 
tliem ; and they were, moreover, aware that the army of Argyle, who 
was a youth of no military experience, was a raw and undisciplined 

* Sir Robert Gordon, p. 218. 


militia, and composed, in a great measure, of Catholics, who could not 
be expected to feel very warmly for the Protestant interest, to support 
which, the expedition was professedly undertaken. The seeds of disaf- 
fection, besides, had been already sown in Argyle's camp by the cor- 
ruption of the Grants and Campbell of Lochnell. 

On hearing of Argyle's approach, the earl of Errol immediately col- 
lected a select body of about one hundred horsemen, being gentlemen, 
on whose courage and fidelity he could rely, and with these he joined 
the earl of Huntly at Strathbogie. The forces of Huntly, after this 
junction, amounted, it is said, to nearly fifteen hundred men, almost 
altogether horsemen, and with this body he advanced to Carnborrow, 
where the two earls and their chief followers made a solemn vow to 
conquer, or to die. Marching from thence, Huntly 's army arrived at 
Auchindun the same day that Argyle's army reached Drummin. At 
Auchindun, Huntly received intelligence that Argyle was on the eve 
of descending from the mountains to the lowlands, which induced him, 
on the following day, to send captain Thomas Carr and a party of horse- 
men to reconnoitre the enemy, while he himself advanced with his main 
army. The reconnoitring party soon fell in, accidentally, with Argyle's 
scouts, whom they chased, and some of whom they killed. This oc- 
currence, which was looked upon as a prognostic of victory, so encour- 
aged Huntly and his men, that he resolved to attack the army of Ar- 
gyle before he should be joined by Lord Forbes, and the forces which 
were waiting for his appearance in the lowlands. Argyle had now 
passed Glenlivet, and had reached the banks of a small brook named 

On the other hand, the earl of Argyle had no idea that the earls of 
Huntly and Errol would attack him with such an inferior force ; and he 
was, therefore, astonished at seeing them approach so near him as they 
did. Apprehensive that his numerical superiority in foot would be 
counterbalanced by Huntly 's cavalry, he held a council of war to deli- 
berate whether he should at once engage the enemy, or retreat to the 
mountains, which were inaccessible to Huntly's horsemen, till his low- 
land forces, which were chiefly cavalry, should come up. The council 
advised Argyle to wait till the king, who had promised to appear with 
a force, shojild arrive, or, at all events, till he should be joined by the 
Erasers and Mackenzies from the north, and the Irvings, Forbesses, and 
Leslies from the lowlands with their horse. This opinion, which was 
considered judicious by the most experienced of Argyle's army, was 
however disregarded by him, and he determined to wait the attack of 
the enemy ; and to encourage his men he pointed out to them the small 
number of those they had to combat with, and the spoils they might 
expect after victory. He disposed his army on the declivity of a hill, 
betwixt Glenlivet and Glenrinnes in two parallel divisions. The right 
wing consisting of the Macleans and Mackintoshes was commanded by 
Sir Lauchlan Maclean and Mackintosh — the left, composed of the 
>• "2 F 


Grants, Macneills, and Macgregors, by Grant of Gartinbeg, and the 
centre, consisting of the Campbells, &c., was commanded by Campbell of 
A-Uchinbreck. This vanguard consisted of four thousand men, one-half of 
n^hom carried muskets. The rear of the army, consisting of about six 
thousand men, was commanded by Argyle himself. The earl of Huntly's 
vanguard was composed of three hundred gentlemen, led by the earl of 
Errol, Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchindun, the laird of Gight, the laird of 
Bonnitoun, and captain, afterwards Sir Thomas Carr. The earl himself 
followed with the remainder of his forces, having the laird of Cluny 
upon his right hand and the laird of Abergeldy upon his left. Three 
pieces of field ordnance under the direction of Captain Andrew Gray, 
afterwards colonel of the English and Scots, who served in Bohemia, 
were placed in front of the vanguard. Before advancing, the earl o\ 
Huntly harangued his little army to encourage them to fight manfully ; 
he told them that they had no alternative before them but victory or 
death — that they were now to combat, not for their own lives only, but 
also for the very existence of their families, which would be utterly 
extinguished if they fell a prey to their enemes. 

The position which Argyle occupied on the declivity of the hill gave 
him a decided advantage over his assailants, who, from the nature of 
their force, were greatly hampered by the mossiness of the ground at 
the foot of the hill, which was interspersed by pits from which turf 
had been dug. But, notwithstanding these obstacles, Huntly ad- 
vanced up the hill with a slow and steady pace. It had been arranged 
between him and Campbell of Lochnell, who had promised to go over 
to Huntly as soon as the battle had commenced, that, before charging 
Argyle with his cavalry, Huntly should fire his artillery at the yellow 
standard. Campbell bore a mortal enmity at Argyle, as he had mur- 
dered his brother, Campbell of Calder, in the year fifteen hundred and 
ninety-two; and as he was Argyle's nearest heir, he probably had direct- 
ed the firing at the yellow standard in the hope of cutting off the earl. 
Unfortunately for himself, however, Campbell was shot dead at the 
first fire of the cannon, and upon his fall all his men fled from the field. 
Macneill of Barra was also slain at the same time. The Highlanders, 
who had never before seen field pieces, were thrown into disorder by 
the cannonade, which being perceived by Huntly he charged the enemy, 
and rushing in among them with his horsemen increased the confusion. 
The earl of Errol was directed to attack the right wing of Argyle's army 
commanded by Maclean, but as it occupied a very steep part of the hill, 
and as Errol was greatly annoyed by thick vollies of shot from above, he 
was compelled to make a detour, leaving the enemy on his left. But 
Gordon of Auchindun disdaining such a prudent course, galloped up the 
hill with a party of his own followers, and charged Maclean with great 
impetuosity; but Auchindun's rashness cost him his life. The fall of 
Auchindun so exasperated his followers that they set no bounds to their 
fury; but Maclean received their repeated assaults with firmness, and 


manoeuvred his troops so well as to succeed in cutting off the earl of 
Errol and placing him between his own body and that of Argyle, by 
whose joint forces he was completely surrounded. At this important 
crisis when no hopes of retreat remained, and when Errol and his men 
were in danger of being cut to pieces, the earl of Huntly, very fortunately, 
came up to his assistance and relieved him from his embarrassment. 
The battle was now renewed and continued for two hours, during which 
both parties fought with great bravery, the one, says Sir Robert Gordon, 
' for glorie, the other for necessitie." In the heat of the action the earl 
of Huntly had a horse shot under him, and was in imminent danger of 
his life; but another horse was immediately procured for him. After a 
hard contest the main body of Argyle's army began to give way, and re- 
treated towards the rivulet of Altchonlachan ; but Maclean still kept the 
field and continued to support the falling fortune of the day. At length, 
finding the contest hopeless, and after losing many of his men, he retired 
in good order with the small company that still remained about him. 
Huntly pursued the retiring foe beyond the water of Altchonlachan 
when he was prevented from following them farther by the steepness of 
the hills so unfavourable to the operations of cavalry. The success of 
Huntly was mainly owing to the treachery of Loclmell and of John 
Grant of Gartinbeg, one of Huntly 's vassals, who, in terms of a concerted 
plan, retreated with his men as soon as the action began, by which act 
the centre and the left wing of Argyle's army was completely broken. 
On the side of Argyle five hundred men were killed besides Mac- 
neill of Barra, and Lochnell, and Auchinbreck, the two cousins of 
Argyle. The earl of Huntly's loss was comparatively trifling. About 
fourteen gentlemen were slain, including Sir Patrick Gordon of 
Auchindun and the Laird of Gight ; and the earl of Errol and a con- 
siderable number of persons were wounded. At the conclusion of the 
battle the conquerors returned thanks to God on the field for the victory 
they had achieved. This battle is called by some writers the battle of 
Glenlivet, and by others the battle of Altchonlachan. Among the tro- 
phies found on the field was the ensign belonging to the earl of Argyle, 
which was carried with other spoils to Strathbogie, and placed upon the 
top of the great tower. So certain had Argyle been of success in his 
enterprize, that he had made out a paper apportioning the lands of the 
Gordons, the Hays, and all who were suspected to favour them, among 
the chief officers of his army. This document was found among the 
baggage which he left behind him on the field of battle.* 

When Lord Forbes, Lesley of Balquhain, and Irving of Drum, who 
had assembled all their forces and followers for the purpose of joining 
Argyle, heard of his defeat, they resolved to unite themselves with the 
D unbars and the other forces which were marching fro:u the provinces 
ol iloss and Moray to assist Argyle, and to make an attack upon tlie 

* Sir 11. Ocmlon, pp. 22r>, 227, 22S, 229.— Shaw's Moray, pp. 266; 267, 268. 



Gordons on their return homewards to revenge old quarrels. For this 
purpose, and to conceal their plans, the whole of the Forbeses, and the 
greater part of the Leslies and Irvings, met under cloud of night at 
Druminor and proceeded on their journey; but a singular occurrence 
took place which created such confusion and amazement in their minds 
as to induce them to return home. They had not gone far when a gen- 
tleman of the name of Irving, while riding alongside of Lord Forbes, 
was most unexpectedly shot dead by an unknown hand, and strange to 
tell, although all the fire arms carried by the party were immediately 
searched for the purpose of ascertaining the individual who had com- 
mitted the deed, every one was found to be loaded. This affair raised 
suspicions among the party, and becoming distrustful of one another, 
they dissolved their companies and returned home. The tribes and clans 
of the north who were to have joined Argyle were prevented from doing 
so by the policy of John Dunbar of Muyness, who was a partizan of the 
earl of Huntly. Thus the Gordons escaped the snare which had been